Louisiana man arrested for murdering woman, keeping body in car for 30 days

A Louisiana man was arrested Tuesday on suspicion he killed a woman and drove around with her remains in her SUV for a month.

Sheila Ortega, 72, of Lake Charles was reported missing Aug. 20 after family members said they had not heard from her in a month, the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday.

Detectives searching for Ortega found her SUV parked at a shopping mall on Monday and found her remains inside the vehicle.

Investigators were led to Christopher T. Cater, 41, an acquaintance of Ortega’s, who was found at a nearby business.

“When detectives spoke with Cater, he advised deputies he killed Ortega approximately one month ago. Cater also admitted to detectives to opening several loans using Ortega’s information, after her death,” the sheriff’s office said.

Cater was charged with second-degree murder, unlawful disposal of human remains and identity theft. His bond is pending.

“We have seen some strange cases here in Calcasieu Parish, but this case is definitely an unusual one for us. We have never seen someone drive around with a dead body in the SUV for 30 days,” Calcasieu Sheriff Tony Mancuso said. “My prayers go out to the family and friends of Mrs. Sheila, this is a senseless and inhumane tragedy. The body has been sent off for further testing and to determine the cause of death. The investigation is continuing.”