Self-storage owner Walter Ray Pelfrey has been implicated in the 2016 discovery of a 13-year-old girl’s body in a Spencer, Okla., landfill. He’s accused of instructing the manager of his Scott Street Mini Storage facility in Del City, Okla., to erase records that showed Reshawnda Laney Durham, mother of casualty Geanna Durham, had rented a unit at the property. He also allegedly told his employee to put the trunk containing Geanna’s body into a dumpster and arranged transportation of that dumpster to the landfill, according to the source. Pelfrey, 77, has pleaded not guilty to accessory after the fact and unlawful removal of a dead body.
Geanna Durham was last seen alive in May 2014. Her mother, age 29, found the girl’s body inside their home and apparently hid the remains inside a blue trunk at the house for nearly a year before renting a unit at Scott Street Mini, the source reported.
Reshawnda Durham pleaded guilty this week to failure to report discovered remains, unauthorized removal of a dead body, fraudulently obtaining food stamps and public assistance, and child neglect. She admitted to receiving food stamps in her daughter’s name after her death. The neglect charge was related to leaving her 3-year-old son at home unattended. She was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Prosecutors didn’t allege the teenager was murdered. The state medical examiner couldn’t determine a cause of death, according to the source.
Earlier this year, the storage facility’s former manager testified that Pelfrey asked her in February 2016 to delete records indicating Reshawnda Durham was a tenant. She also said he told her to empty out Durham’s unit and, when the body was discovered, instructed her to put the trunk in the dumpster. Durham rented the unit in April 2015, according to the manager’s testimony.
According to police, Pelfrey had the dumpster transported to the landfill on Feb. 8, 2016. Detectives discovered the trunk with a skeleton inside the following day. DNA concluded the body was Geanna Durham.
Police have also alleged that Pelfrey lied to them in an attempt to help Durham avoid arrest. It isn’t clear from the report why Pelfrey allegedly ordered her unit to be emptied.
Reshawnda Durham reportedly told her mother she didn’t report the discovery of Geanna’s body because she was afraid she would be kicked out of a mental-health program, according to police.
Pelfrey also faces an alternative charge of desecration of a human corpse. His next court date is scheduled for October.