Caretaker charged with murder of 70-year-old woman found entombed in concrete
AVERY COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV/Gray News) - A caretaker has been charged with the murder of a 70-year-old woman who was found entombed in concrete in the basement of a home in Avery County, North Carolina.
Elizabeth Katherine Carserino, also known as Elizabeth Freeman, was taken into custody by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Saturday on outstanding warrants from Avery County on charges of identity theft, larceny of motor vehicle and financial card theft.
She was turned over to the Avery County Sheriff’s Office with an additional charge of murder in the death of 70-year-old Lynn Gay Keene.
Carserino was taken to the Avery County Detention Center under a bond of $1.62 million.
Deputies said Keene, who had been missing out of Avery County for almost two months, was found entombed in concrete in the basement of a home. Her caretaker, Carserino, who was deemed as a person of interest, was found in the hospital with a drug issue.
After she was discharged from the hospital, deputies took Carserino, who went by Elizabeth Freeman, into custody.
The Avery County Sheriff’s Office filed a missing person report for Keene on Friday, July 30. She was reported missing by family from her home in Linville Falls, with their last contact being June 14.
Detectives found the home secured and Keene’s vehicle, a 2000 Lincoln Town Car, was not at her home. Keene and her vehicle were entered into the state database in an attempt to locate her or her vehicle.
Officers with the Cherokee Police Department reported to the Avery County Sheriff’s Office that Monday that Keene’s vehicle had been located abandoned on Blue Wing Road in Cherokee.
A search of the vehicle showed that the car was locked and the keys for the vehicle were found underneath the driver’s seat.
Avery detectives then got a search warrant for the home of Lynn Keene, and with assistance from the NC SBI and their crime scene team, a search of the home was conducted.
During the search, detectives and SBI agents found human remains entombed in concrete in the basement. An autopsy was performed on the human remains that were located and it was determined through dental records that the remains were that of Keene. The autopsy also concluded that the cause of death was a homicide and that Keene did not die of natural causes.
Deputies identified Elizabeth Freeman, from Goose Creek, S.C., as a suspect.
Deputies say Freeman, 53, was hired by the family to be the live-in caretaker of Keene.
Detective Tim Austin says after the vehicle was found, he “knew something was up.”
Two empty bags of a concrete mixture were found in the trunk. That’s when the investigation changed from a missing persons case to something more, and when warrants were sought to enter the Keene home.
When he and another detective opened the door to the basement, Austin says “we saw a large amount of flies and that’s an indicator of something deceased.”
A mass of hardened concrete was found and that’s when the SBI was called in. Agents broke enough of the concrete to discover human remains inside.
“She had blunt force trauma to the head as well as strangulation by ligature - it was a belt,” said Austin.
As investigators searched for Freeman, they found surveillance video at a store in Marion that showed the caretaker driving Keene’s car and using one of her bank cards.
Deputies believe someone else may have been involved.
The two bags of concrete mixture were each 80 pounds.
They believe that was too much for Freeman to handle by herself.
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