Man killed mother, hid body in trailer, police say

Posted: Sunday, January 06, 2002

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- A 37-year-old Texas man visiting his mother strangled her in her Anchorage trailer, bound the corpse with duct tape, wrapped it in a blanket, then hid it in the breakfast bar, police said.

Kenneth Padgett then pawned her CDs and videos, and rented the trailer, body inside, to a woman with two children.

The investigation of Padgett began by chance, when his luggage was picked at random for a check at Ted Steven Anchorage International Airport and a shotgun was found inside.

Anchorage police charged Padgett Friday with first-degree murder, second-degree murder and evidence tampering in the death of his mother, Charlotte Miles, 56.

Miles died about Nov. 14, according to a criminal complaint filed by Anchorage Police Detective Joe Hoffbeck. Padgett rented her trailer to Cassandra Pernack and her two children Nov. 28, and the three lived there until police found Miles' body in the kitchen island breakfast bar on Dec. 20.

The investigation began Dec. 2 after Padgett arrived at the airport for a flight home to Texas. Airline personnel selected his checked luggage for X-ray screening.

Employees spotted a shotgun in one of Padgett's bags and notified airport police, said Wilbur Hooks, airport police chief.

Officers then discovered Padgett had an arrest warrant from Texas for a probation violation. And as a convicted felon, it's illegal for Padgett to have a firearm. Airport police arrested him.

In Padgett's luggage they found identification cards for his mother plus some women's jewelry, according to the complaint.

After Padgett's arrest at the airport, officers tried to find Miles. They opened a homicide case Dec. 14.

Pernack told detectives she started staying with Miles Nov. 11 and last saw her three days later. On Nov. 28, she agreed to rent the trailer from Padgett and paid him in cash, police said.

Detectives discovered Padgett had pawned a large number of VHS movies and CDs Nov. 21 in Anchorage. Padgett received a couple thousand dollars for his mother's collections, Hoffbeck said.

Police obtained a search warrant for Miles' trailer and searched it Dec. 20. When investigators arrived, they noticed a foul odor and fluid seeping from the kitchen island.

''Her face was encased in duct tape,'' according to the complaint. ''Her hands were bound with duct tape. Her body was fully clothed and tightly wrapped with a blanket. The blanket, in turn, was wrapped with duct tape. The entire body was enclosed in the breakfast bar of the trailer. That had been sealed with silicone, shelves removed, and doors replaced (with) screwed-in wall paneling. The enclosure further was sealed by means of a counter top.''

The State Medical Examiner's Office determined Miles died from asphyxiation.

Pernack, the renter, apparently didn't know there was a body in her kitchen until the oozing and smell became apparent the day the police team arrived, according to police.

''He had sealed the compartment quite well,'' Hoffbeck said. ''I'd been in that trailer myself twice before, and there was so sign of the body.''

Detectives interviewed Padgett on Dec. 21. He told them he awoke one night to see his mom die after she had trouble breathing, the complaint states.

Padgett said he ''then utilized duct tape to cover his mother's mouth and face because he did not want to look at her,'' according to the complaint. ''He wrapped up the body, constructed the crypt, and then sealed the body inside the crypt.''

Padgett is being held at Cook Inlet Pre-Trial Facility in lieu of $250,000 bail and the Texas warrant, which doesn't allow for bail.

He has a lengthy criminal record from Texas, California and Florida dating from 1981, when he was 17, according to the complaint. He has been convicted nine times for felonies and six times for misdemeanors. Four of the convictions were for drunk driving and two for forgery. All but one, a 1996 conviction for resisting arrest, were nonviolent.

Hoffbeck said money was the apparent motive for the slaying, though Padgett and his mother also had arguments.

The complaint says a neighbor told police ''there was a problem between Ms. Miles and defendant with regard to defendant creating bills for his mother when he visited her.''

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