Unsolved Mysteries: Body in Bags

Tamara Williams, aka Tammy, accused of killing David Carter and who is on the run.

While, “Body in Bags,” the third episode in volume 3 of Netflix’s, Unsolved Mysteries, lacks mystery of a kind, it sure makes up for it in equal parts sadness and anger. I would go out on a bit of a limb and suggest that this specific story, if given the full documentary treatment to breathe, would be analogous to how I felt after first watching, 2008’s, Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father. The latter, without giving anything away, has such a unique elements to it, comparisons are difficult, but what I watched in “Body in Bags” was so damn heartbreaking.

Another episode set in Michigan, this one somewhere within Wayne County, I believe, follows David Carter, a 39-year-old man, who had a son named DJ with Samia. The couple was off-and-on for something like 14 years, but stayed friendly as co-parents to their son, who toward the end of David’s life, was playing high school football.

In March 2018, David met Tammy, who also had children from a previous relationship, twins, thereabouts a similar age as DJ. She worked at the Detroit Medical Center and as a travel agent. Their “romance” seemed like a rekindling of a friendship that started back in high school. However, David’s family had weird vibes about Tammy because she seemed controlling and possessive over David. In fact, four weeks or so before his murder, David took a cousin to the movies and upon returning, his tires were slashed. The family suspected Tammy did it, jealous and mad David took someone else to the movies.

Let’s get to the crucial timeline:

  • Sept. 28, 2018: David was at his son’s Friday night football game, along with Samia, his sister Tasia and her husband I think was also there. There’s video. David was joking with them. It was a good time. He seemed fine. It was the last any of them would see him.
  • Sept. 30, 2018: DJ was supposed to go to his dad’s apartment, but Samia received a text from him saying he was sick and wouldn’t be able to have DJ come over. So sick, he couldn’t even answer the phone and talk to DJ, apparently. Nonetheless, DJ wanted to retrieve his phone charger from his dad’s apartment, so he went over to the apartment where he encountered Tammy. Weirdly, Tammy said David wasn’t there, he left to go for a walk … even though he was ill and it was cold out? DJ decides not to investigate the matter further and leaves the house, a decision he later both regrets and thinks was smart given how dangerous Tammy was.
  • Oct. 1, 2018: As far as I can tell, this is a gap in the timeline. David is not heard from and nobody is checking on him, or at least, that we know of from the episode. However, in Ohio near interstate 75 about 50 miles from the border with Michigan, mowers with the Ohio Department of Transportation find a sleeping bag that they suspect might have a human body in it. It is determined that a lower portion of a body is inside: Legs and a butt, but nothing else. There is a distinctive pit bull with red eyes tattoo on one of the legs.
  • Oct. 2, 2018: Roger, his longtime friend and coworker, told Tasia that David still hadn’t come to work, which was unusual. Such a call prompted Tasia, with her husband, Tasia and David’s father, Elton, and Samia to go to David’s apartment to check on him. Tasia finds blood under the bed and Samia finds blood on the mattress. Elton finds a bullet hole in the closet. That day, the family files a missing persons report with the Melvindale Police Department.
  • Oct. 3, 2018: Once the Ohio team with the lower portion of the body checks missing persons cases, Elton identifies the body via the tattoo. This is such a terribly sad scene where the family talks about how difficult it was to hear the news, particularly Elton having to tell David’s mother, who herself has just been diagnosed with cancer.
  • Oct. 5, 2018: Tammy is arrested in connection with David’s murder. Remember, up to this point, Tammy seemed to be going about her normal work routine during the week after presumably killing and chopping up her boyfriend’s body, then discarding it throughout Ohio.
  • Oct. 8: 2018: Tammy is released because police don’t yet have enough to charge her with the crime and hold her. Surely, there is some record of her interaction with police between Oct. 5, 2018 and when they released her on this day, no? I would be curious to see those records.
  • Oct. 10, 2018: More remains were found not far from where the lower torso was found. This time, a head and the medical examiner is able to determine the manner of death: a single, close range gunshot wound to the head. The medical examiner wonders how this occurred given David’s size and the close range with lack of any defensive wounds, speculating that perhaps he was asleep and/or sedated. Given where the blood was found, it seems likely he was shot and killed while asleep. Tasia even suggests later that Tammy had a key to the apartment and could have come in to complete the deed while he slept. Elton found a bullet hole near the closet; I’m trying to picture the trajectory of how you shoot someone in bed, under their ear, it exits their head and ends up in a lower portion of the closet, though. The angle is odd.
  • Oct. 16, 2018: The last of the remains are found, the upper torso, including the arms, hands and feet. We learn from the medical examiner, now that she has the full body, that the likely instrument used to dismember the body was a garden variety kitchen knife, which would take considerable time to cut a body in thirds that way. That is appalling and horrifying, to say the least. Unfortunately, fatal incidents occur often among those in relationships, but the act of dismembering the body thereafter takes this case to a different, psychopathic level. That is not common.
  • Oct. 18, 2018: Between when she was released by the police on Oct. 8 and this time, Tammy, otherwise known as Tamara Williams, seemed to make a decision to run. Witnesses saw her in Ohio, then we know she bought a ticket to Chicago and then to Penn Station in New York. She was last seen on camera exiting the Neptune hotel in New York on this date. Speaking of distinctive tattoos, she has a distinctive and huge rose tattoo on her left shoulder. (Worth noting, the family doesn’t learn about Tammy absconding justice until January 2019; in other words, they were left in the dark about David’s case for the rest of October 2018, November 2018 and December 2018.)

Worth emphasizing then, that David was last seen alive by others that Friday night, Sept. 28, 2018. We know the first of his remains would be found that Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. If Tammy shot him while he slept, that means she could have shot him that Friday night and then had all of Saturday and some of Sunday prior to DJ appearing at the apartment to dismember and dispose of the body. I’m presuming she didn’t dump the body at any point on Monday since remains were first found on Monday, but perhaps very early on the morning of Monday is possible, but my thought is that David’s body was already out of the apartment before DJ was in the apartment. It’s a small, but more than doable window.

The United States Marshals Service is still actively looking for Tammy. This is why I say there isn’t a traditional mystery here: It seems readily apparent that Tammy killed David. The “mystery” is that she’s still free and somehow has evaded justice for the past four years.

Theories are (and there can be overlap, of course):

  • Tammy’s family are helping her in some manner or fashion. The officer with the USMS interviewed insinuated as much. It is worth remembering she has twin children! Has she really not talked to them in four years?
  • She is with a new boyfriend, who is either a.) in danger, given what Tammy did to her prior boyfriend or b.) is also a criminal of some sort, so is fine with aiding and abetting her fugitive status.
  • She hasn’t received help, but owing to her former job as a travel agent, she’s able to blend in and continue to evade justice.
  • She’s dead for one reason or another.

Even though it isn’t a traditional mystery, I’m glad Unsolved Mysteries covered this case because David deserves justice. David’s family deserves justice. They are lovely people and I’m grateful they had a chance to get such a platform. I hope the renewed attention to this case can unearth Tammy’s whereabouts and bring her to justice.

The wanted poster.

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