RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond and Hampton search warrant affidavits and other court records showed how a simple traffic stop Saturday revealed a badly decomposed body stashed in the trunk of a 44-year-old Richmond woman's car. The woman previously served time for trying to shoot a wayward boyfriend.
For now, Tonya Martin Slaton, of 111 Foushee Street, faces a class 6 felony charge that she concealed a dead body and is being held without bond in the Hampton Jail, police said.
But according to the search warrants, one investigator believes “the victim’s death was likely the result of some homicidal action.”
But who is it, if indeed it is a human body? How old? How did that person die? It’s up to the State Medical Examiner to determine since the body is so badly decomposed.
The case revealed in the court documents began Saturday, June 6, at approximately 6:30 a.m., when a neighbor in Slaton’s Foushee Street apartment building saw her leaving in her black Mustang, which was parked in front of the old apartment building by the Downtown YMCA in the heart of the city.
Then, at 8:20 a.m., a Virginia state trooper in Hampton pulled over the 2003 Ford Mustang for expired tags.
A subsequent inquiry revealed the car “was not registered in Virginia and the license plates on the vehicle were not found on file with the Department of Motor Vehicles,” according to the affidavit.
The trooper began impounding the vehicle.
"During the inventory of the vehicle, Trooper . . . discovered a black trash bag in the trunk . . . There was a stong odor of rotting flesh permeating from the bag." The body in the trunk was double-bagged and sealed with duct tape.
Slaton allegedly threw some clothes on top of the bag, saying the bag contained just clothes. The trooper also noticed a large white stain located on the floorboard behind the driver’s seat. “When questioned, (she) explained that she spilled some bleach.”
Based on those actions, investigators believed she had some knowledge of the body in the trunk and how it got there. Investigators searched her car and her home – and the trash outside, as a nearby resident told WTVR CBS 6.
The inventory seized, according to court documents:
- Trash bags
- Black latex gloves
- Carpet in the car
- Human hair
- White sweater
- Several cell phones
- Jailhouse letters
- Numerous other items
Slaton’s landlord told WTVR CBS 6 that Slaton had been a tenant for two years. She described Slaton as a happy, friendly person with a bubbly personality. She said Slaton was late on her rent one month, but took a second job to make the payment.
Residents in the apartment building declined to discuss the case or Slaton, citing requests from state police investigators that they not talk to the media.
According to court documents and other sources, Slaton worked full-time at Integrative Health in Glen Allen, as a front desk manager. Previously, the spine and disc clinic was located in Midlothian.
While she worked at that location, she ate her lunches most every day at A N.Y. Pizza, workers there said. Typically she had chicken fingers with extra sauce and liked to banter with the chefs and workers, they said.
“Super happy,” said Doug Simon. “She was really nice. She didn’t come off as weird or distant . . . Very talkative.”
When asked if news of her arrest fit at all with how she acted, Simon said, “Not at all.”
Court and news records showed Slaton had been in serious trouble before.
In October 2007, Hampton Police were looking for her and her black Mustang after she fired four shots through her boyfriend’s front door.
She had become angry when he tried to break up with her and went and got a gun out of her car, saying “neither one of them were going to leave alive,” according to a report about the affidavit in that case.
The boyfriend escaped by climbing out of a window, cutting himself.
Slaton eventually turned herself in and wound up serving the better part of four years of a 15-year sentence for shooting into an occupied dwelling and attempted maiming.
WTVR CBS 6 reached out to the victim in that case, but had not heard from him by late Wednesday.