NEW YORK – A fugitive sex offender wanted in two states was charged Saturday with strangling a woman and leaving her body beneath a bed at a Times Square hotel.
Police detained the 35-year-old suspect, Clarence Dean, on Friday night after announcing that he was wanted for questioning. He was being held on a charge of second-degree murder.
The unemployed drifter abruptly checked out of his room at the Hotel Carter on Wednesday after a stay of nearly two weeks. A chambermaid cleaning the room the next morning found the rigid corpse, wrapped in plastic and shoved beneath a bed.
Investigators were still trying to determine the woman's identity Saturday, but some details emerged about the man accused of killing her.
Dean has been in and out of trouble with the law for years, and was required to register as a sex offender because of a lewd act involving a child in the mid 1990s in Palm Beach, Fla.
Sheriff's deputies in Alabama issued a warrant for his arrest last spring after learning that he had moved out of a motel in Alabaster, Ala., without informing authorities.
Police in Clarksville, Tenn. began looking for Dean too earlier this month after a woman he met over the Internet complained that the ex-con had taken her car, cleaned out her bank account, and disappeared.
The woman, who spoke with The Associated Press on the condition that her name not be printed because she feared for her safety, said Dean moved in with her family last February to help with odd chores as she recovered from a surgery.
He seemed "very nice, and very normal," she said, until the family said it was time for him to look for another place to live.
"He was having temper tantrums like a five year old. He seemed obsessive compulsive. He was talking to himself and complaining about not getting any respect," the woman said. "The last week that he was here, he stopped showering."
A spokesman for the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department in Tennessee confirmed that a warrant had been issued for his arrest on theft charges on Aug. 23, about 10 days after he skipped town. By then, Dean had already arrived in New York.
An autopsy concluded that the woman found in Dean's hotel room was beaten and strangled. Police said she didn't appear to have been a registered guest at the hotel. They described the woman as nearly six feet tall and said she was missing a finger due to a prior injury.
Police were unsure Saturday whether Dean had a lawyer.