Two Men Charged with Abuse of a Corpse
Thirty-six-year-old Britta Lashley’s last contact with anyone was on February 21, 2021, but she wasn’t reported missing to the Autauga County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) until June 15, 2022. That is when her mother, Tammy Lashley of Mount Joliet, Tennessee, called to say she was concerned about her daughter’s long absence. She told detectives that she had not heard from her daughter since the previous year and had grown afraid that “something bad” had happened.
Several weeks before filing the missing persons report, Tammy Lashley had attempted to contact her daughter by phone. Instead, she had spoken to James Michael Barrett who told her that he would ask Britta to call her. It was a phone call that would never come.
Instead, Britta’s mother filed a report and an investigation into the disappearance began. The campaign included numerous posts of her photo and details on social media. Police spoke with multiple people to gather more information about the days before Britta vanished.
The following month, Britta’s mummified remains were found in a storage shed in Prattville, Alabama. According to court records, police charged 52-year-old James Michael Barrett and 60-year-old Edward Hiram Norman with abuse of a corpse.
The discovery came after investigators from ACSO obtained a search warrant for a Prattville, Alabama, storage facility. They were made aware of a unit there that was rented to Barrett. The unit was searched on July 12.
Inside, they discovered the mummified remains of a woman believed to be Britta Lashley based on a physical description, tattoos, and other factors. While results are still pending from the July 13 autopsy, there is no evidence that Britta was murdered, according to District Attorney C.J. Robinson. The two men were instead booked with abuse of a corpse pending final autopsy results.
Court records indicate deposition testimony that Norman rented a U-Haul on July 10. Together, he and Barrett then moved Lashley’s body from a Montgomery Comfort Stay motel to the storage unit in Prattville, which is just northwest of Montgomery.
Authorities told Tish Forgey, Britta’s sister that the remains of her sibling had been moved from the Comfort Stay by the two men in an already mummified state. The men had kept Britta’s remains stored there for about nine months before moving her. Barrett is said to have worked at the motel while it was being renovated.
Despite previous police statements that there was no evidence of murder, Forgey maintains that the authorities involved in the case told her that Britta was “brutally murdered.” District Attorney Robinson denied that any evidence of this has been found.
For now, the results of the autopsy have still not been released and trials are pending. It is still not clear what happened to Britta Lashley in her final days. Hopefully, testimony during future trials will shed more light on this strange case.
Was Britta murdered or did she die in some other circumstances that the men were reluctant to report? Perhaps time will tell.
Sources: Autauga Sheriff’s Office, AL.com, GoFundMe, Oxygen.com