MIAMI — When police found Deanna Clendinen's mutilated body on Friday, her boyfriend told them there was a misunderstanding: The body, he said, was that of a life-size blow-up doll with human flesh.
The cops didn't buy it.
Instead, after searching the man's home and finding a scene resembling the film Silence of the Lambs, they arrested Jerome Ernest Wright, 32, and charged him with abusing a dead human body. The woman's stomach had been lacerated and many of her internal organs removed, police said.
As of Monday, Jerome Wright had not been charged with the woman's murder. He not only denied killing her — he claimed the body wasn't even human. Still, police said, a murder charge is on the table.
"Pending the (Miami-Dade County) medical examiner's report, we'll know which way the investigation will go," said Miami-Dade Detective Alvaro Zabaleta.
According to police, they arrived at the home at 6268 NW 23rd Ave., just past 7:30 p.m. Friday after being notified of a foul smell. Wright's mother, Della Rosalie Wright, had called the police.
She told police she lived alone with her son and led them to his bedroom, where she said the odor was coming from. As the cops got closer, Jerome Wright walked out of his room, "naked and sweaty," police said.
He told them he had a stomachache.
Inside his room, police said they found body fluids on a trash can and on a mattress. Then, inside a closet, they found a badly mutilated body covered in sheets. A decomposed leg was sticking out, police said.
Then, police said, they began questioning Della Wright, who told them she lived alone with her son and that his girlfriend, Clendinen, 52, often stayed with her son.
She told police that when she asked her son what the smell was, he said "he saw a rat in his room, had diarrhea and that the dog defecated on the floor."
That's when police began questioning Jerome Wright, they said. He told them that whatever was in his room was not real. Then, the defendant stated that there was a life-size blow-up doll in the closet, and that the doll was made of flesh.
Police said Jerome Wright also repeatedly said that "if you find something in my room it's from the internet." Before he was arrested, he also told police he hadn't seen Clendinen in five months.
When police took a closer look at Clendinen's body, they said they found a large laceration across her midsection and that several of her internal organs were missing. They said they found them outside in a garbage can adjacent to the home.
Jerome Wright was arrested last March and charged with aggravated battery against Clendinen. He was on probation when police found her decomposed body.