New Jersey state police have charged a Vineland man with dismembering a woman’s corpse and setting it on fire before it was discovered in a Cumberland County field last week.
Dennis Parrish, 52, was charged with desecration of human remains and moving human remains. Police say he mutilated the corpse of Tonya Cook, 32, of Vineland, at his home and later drove it to a field in Lawrence Township.
A passerby discovered the corpse in a field off Banks Road near Lummistown Road and called police. Beneath the remains, police found a partially burned cardboard box with an orange sticker that they traced to Allied Van Lines. Investigators learned that the box had been delivered to Parrish’s West Arbor Avenue home in February.
On Wednesday, police searched the home and found bloodstains and black trash bags similar to one found at the scene containing the head of the victim. They also found matchsticks similar to those found near the body.
Parrish was arrested Thursday at an Absecon hotel. He has not been charged with Cook’s slaying, which remains under investigation by state police and the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office. Authorities have not identified any suspects in the killing or disclosed a motive for the crime.
Parrish is at the Cumberland County Jail awaiting a bail hearing.
Cook’s family, in a statement, thanked law enforcement officials and described the arrest as “bittersweet.”
“The Cook family, and the world, has lost a beautiful soul,” the statement said. “The loss of Tonya has been painful for her friends and family, especially her mother, Faye.
“As a mother, Faye has felt a kind of pain that no mother should ever have to feel,” the family said. Beyond that, they asked for privacy.
Cook’s younger brother, Timothy, has mourned her death on Facebook and started the hashtag “Justice for Tonya.”
The family has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for her burial. As of Friday afternoon, the campaign had raised $1,650 toward its $5,000 goal.