Mentor-on-the-Lake Body: 911 Caller Mentions ‘Smell’

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A retired Mentor police officer and former Lake County sheriff's deputy was arraigned in Mentor Municipal Court on murder charges Tuesday.

Gary S. Stroud, 57, was also charged with abuse of a corpse, failure to report a death and tampering with evidence.

The charges were issued after a woman's body was removed from the garage of his home located along Marine Parkway Sunday night.

Stroud was ordered held on a $1 million bond at the Lake County jail.

Fox 8 News crews were in court as Stroud plead not guilty to the misdemeanor count and entered no plea to the felony counts.

The identity of the deceased was not provided in court on Tuesday, but Mentor-On-The-Lake Police Chief John P. Gielink tells Fox 8 News' Emily Valdez that authorities believe the body found is that of Stroud's wife, Diane.

Chief Gielink said hat Diane has not been seen in six weeks and that Gary Stroud told his adult children, one of whom lives in the home on Marine Parkway, that Diane packed up some of her belongings and left the state.

Chief Gielink tells Valdez that the body was so badly decomposed that authorities will have to wait on dental or DNA records to positively identify the individual.

The body remains in the custody of the Cuyahoga County medical examiner's office.

According to the incident report, the body was found wrapped in plastic and bound with duct tape.

A plastic bag was found over the head of the body, which was also wrapped in duct tape.

The report indicates the woman's body was stuffed into a sleeping bag.

Police were alerted after a strong odor coming from the garage caused one of the couple's daughters to call 911.

"I think there is a dead animal in my garage," the caller told the 911 dispatcher.

The dispatcher responded, "So you think there's a dead dog in your garage?"

The caller then responded by saying, "There's something."

Lake County Sheriff Dan Dunlap told Fox 8 News' Suzanne Stratford that Stroud was taken into custody Sunday evening around 8:00 p.m. by Mentor-on-the-Lake police.

Dunlap says Stroud is a retired Mentor Police Officer, who until recently worked part-time at the sheriff's office.

He mainly worked security in the courtroom and on bank runs, Dunlap said.

Authorities continue to investigate the events that led up to a body being found in Stroud's home.

Stroud worked for the Lake County Sheriff's office from 2006 until September of this year and was let go due to budget cuts, Dunlap said.

Two family pets were removed from the home Monday and were given to family members.

The Lake County Humane Society will care for several chickens that were kept in the yard.