A 47-year-old Philadelphia man has been charged with burglary and abuse of corpse in the case of a dismembered body that was found inside a U-Haul truck in Northeast Philadelphia Thursday.
Taray Herring was arraigned Saturday morning on those charges as well as criminal trespass, theft, and tampering with evidence before a Philadelphia arraignment court magistrate. He was ordered held without bail.
Authorities have not yet released the victim’s name, and homicide detectives are continuing to investigate the person’s death.
The body was found about 9 a.m. Thursday after police officers responded to a burglary call in Somerton and followed a U-Haul that drove away from a property on the 1000 block of Sanibel Street. After pulling the driver over a short distance away at the intersection of Kelvin Avenue and Foster Street, they found the dismembered body inside a trash bag in the back of the truck.
Property records show that the owner of the house on Sanibel where the burglary was reported is Peter Gerold, whose 70th birthday was Monday. Gerold owned a massage therapy practice.
Police Sgt. Eric Gripp has said that when the truck was pulled over, the driver got out of the vehicle and told officers: “‘I don’t want anything to do with this, and there’s a body in the back.’”
Police said a weapon was also found in the back of the truck.
The driver and another man in the truck were taken into custody. It was not immediately known if Herring was the driver or passenger. Police did not identify the suspects or the victim, or say how they might have known each other.
Herring, a registered sex offender on the Pennsylvania State Police’s Megan’s Law website, had been arrested last May on charges of burglary, criminal trespass, theft and related offenses, according to court records. His bail was changed to unsecured bail in June, and he was released. He still faces a preliminary hearing on those charges.
He pleaded guilty in 2019 to a charge of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and was sentenced to 18 months’ probation as part of a negotiated agreement, and was ordered to be supervised under the Adult Probation and Parole Department Mental Health Unit, court records indicate.
In 2015, he was convicted of indecent assault and harassment in a 2013 incident and was sentenced to nine to 18 months in jail on the assault charge, and was allowed to be immediately paroled. Although he was deemed not to be a sexually violent predator, he was ordered to register on the State Police’s Megan’s Law website as a sexual offender. He was also ordered to be supervised by the probation and parole department’s mental health unit and undergo sex-offender treatment, according to court records.
And in 2001, he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, indecent assault, and possession of instruments of crime for an incident the prior year and was sentenced to at least five to 10 years in prison.
On Friday, investigators searched for evidence in dumpsters behind a nearby strip mall at Proctor Road and Kelvin Avenue, near the Sanibel house. They collected a black plastic bag behind a group of stores.
Investigators also went to the Sanibel house Friday and continued to search a detached garage there. Employees of the SPCA and ACCT Philly were on scene removing birds in cages and other animals from inside the residence.
Sarah Barnett, a spokesperson for ACCT, said there were about 30 parrots inside the house, along with several bearded dragon lizards, tortoises, and koi fish and beehives in the backyard. Barnett said it appeared as if the homeowner was trying to breed and sell the birds, which she said were “very highly sought-after” and can be worth thousands of dollars each.