KEOKUK COUNTY, Iowa (TCD) -- Officials have charged a 44-year-old man on suspicion of killing a missing 40-year-old victim and trying to burn his remains.
According to a criminal complaint, on Jan. 20, Craig Smith’s roommate reported him missing to the Ottumwa Police Department after they hadn’t seen him in over a week.
In an interview, Smith’s sister reportedly told detectives she last saw her brother on Jan. 7 at her residence. She said that at around 12:30 p.m. that day, Smith’s friend Desiree Potter allegedly called him and asked him to work on a car. Smith reportedly told Potter he had to drop off a white 2012 Chevy Traverse with Jeffrey Gautreaux and would meet with her later.
According to the complaint, Gautreaux lives with his stepfather, Steven Grant, and the Traverse was registered to Grant.
Potter also spoke with police, and according to the complaint, she said she spoke with Smith shortly after 12 p.m. on Jan. 7. Smith reportedly told Potter to send pictures of the vehicle Gautreaux was going to repair for her.
Potter allegedly received a call from Smith at around 12:32 p.m. but didn’t answer, and that was the last time anyone heard from him.
According to the complaint, investigators obtained cellular data analysis, which tracked Smith’s cellphone leaving his sister’s home and traveling to Gautreaux’s residence.
Investigators learned Smith’s phone had been used for several hours around Gautreaux’s home, but the data usage stopped on Jan. 7 at approximately 6:24 p.m. However, the phone was reportedly turned back on at Gautreaux’s on Jan. 17.
According to the Iowa Department of Public Safety (DPS), on Feb. 1, investigators with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), Ottumwa Police Department, and Keokuk County Sheriff’s Office served a search warrant at Gautreaux’s residence, where they found human remains. Based on their investigation, officials believe they belong to Smith, but the state anthropologist, the Office of the State Medical Examiner, and the DCI Crime Lab will positively identify the remains.
According to the complaint, Gautreaux told a DCI agent in an interview that he, Grant, and Smith were at his place on Jan. 7. Gautreaux reportedly admitted he "aimed a shotgun at Smith and pulled the trigger," fatally shooting him in the face.
Gautreaux allegedly "concealed Smith’s body and attempted to burn Smith’s remains." He reportedly told police that on Jan. 17, he turned Smith’s phone back on but later "destroyed it."
Gautreaux’s stepfather told investigators Smith and Gautreaux were at the home on Jan. 7 and he heard the gunshot from his bedroom, the complaint alleges. Grant reportedly left his room and saw his stepson in the living room with Smith, who had died.
DCI agents charged Gautreaux with first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse, according to the DPS. Gautreaux and Grant were originally charged with drug offenses, but Grant has been released from custody.