An Alton man is in custody after allegedly confessing to Oregon County sheriff's deputies that he killed his neighbor with a rock and then cut her body into pieces.
Authorities were notified of the murder or "pending murder" by an unidentified man who said Guy Varnell, 47, told him he killed his neighbor, "the Cat Woman," later identified as Narda E. Pranke, 51, of rural Alton.
Oregon County Sheriff George Underwood confirmed March 1 that Varnell is in custody at the Oregon County Jail in Alton on $1 million bond.
Sheriff's deputies continued the search, and found plastic bags of body parts and clothing in a shed in a remote area. Deputies then found Pranke's torso in a brushy area on the property.
Oregon County Sheriff's Department and Missouri State Highway Patrol officers located Varnell and took him to the sheriff's department, where Varnell allegedly admitting hitting Pranke several times in the head with a rock on Feb. 25 or 26.
Varnell said he left Pranke's body on the ground for several days before returning to dismember her body on Feb. 29 to dispose of the corpse.
Varnell also told authorities he went to Pranke's property a few days later. Varnell admitting stealing a Ruger Mark 2 pistol while searching through Pranke's belongings at her property. Varnell led officers to a wooded are near his home where he had hidden the gun.
Underwood said Pranke contacted his office some time ago about a neighbor cutting a tree across the road from her property. Pranke did not fill out the complaint form deputies brought her, Underwood said.
Underwood said the only contact his office had with Varnell was once in about 2004 when Chief Deputy Eric King cited him for a traffic or misdemeanor drug violation.
Pranke lived in the wild without running water or electricity, he said.
"She had a couple of tents out there and some pavilions," Underwood said.
Underwood said March 1 that he and four other officers had been up for 30 hours investigating the case. He thanked the highway patrol for its assistance.
Varnell is charged with first-degree murder, a Class A felony. Other charges are pending, including a felony weapons charge.