NEW CASTLE, N.Y. (AP) -- A routine traffic stop led to the arrest of a man who reportedly has admitted killing his wife in Minnesota and burying her body on a remote tract of land in Tennessee.
The tale emerged after New Castle police ordered Jeffrey Lewis Thompson, 38, to pull over for driving without a seatbelt. They then discovered he was driving with phony identification and carrying a switchblade.
Lewis, who was driving with the name Mark Miller on his identification, is being held here while authorities in the three states investigate his story. Thompson had not been charged with any crime in connection with the woman's body.
The Journal News in Westchester County reported Friday that Thompson told authorities he had strangled his wife, Ruma Hamid, 26, at a campsite in Minnesota in May. He then reportedly drove to Tennessee's Bledsoe County, north of Chattanooga, where he buried her body in a tract of land he had purchased over the Internet.
At the KOA Campground near Jordan, Minn., a man who registered as Mark Miller arrived in mid-April with his wife and child. They left the impression of a happy young family.
"They would all come to the store and play on the swings in the evening," said campground owner Joanne Conaway.
Even when the man packed up his van and trailer and left abruptly one evening nearly three weeks later, Conaway said she wasn't that surprised.
"He said, 'This way she can sleep and the baby can sleep and I can get to Chicago,"' said Conaway, who didn't see the woman and child as the van left.
"It is a strange story," said Scott County (Minn.) Sheriff Bill Nevin, who has sent investigators to Tennessee and to New York.
Anne Marie Corbalis, a spokeswoman for Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro, said she could not confirm that Thompson had confessed to the crime.
She said only that "after further questioning by New Castle detectives an investigation ensued involving authorities in Minnesota and Tennessee and a woman's remains were uncovered."
Bledsoe County Sheriff Bob Swafford said authorities got a court order to exhume the body and found it under 2 feet of dirt and decking material after they were given the information about Thompson.
"(Thompson) described it to a T, within a couple feet of where we found the body," Swafford said.
He said Tennessee authorities were trying to positively identify the woman. After that is determined, he said authorities would make a decision on possible charges against him.
His lawyer, Tamika Coverdale, would not comment.
Thompson was being held without bail at the Westchester County jail on charges of criminal possession of a weapon; criminal impersonation for driving with a false license; and endangering the welfare of a child.
A 14-month-old boy was with Thompson, and the boy has been placed in foster care, Corbalis said.
Pirro said Thompson has an extensive criminal record, including convictions of rape in Oregon, custodial interference in California and fraud in Florida.
She said Thompson spent six months in a California jail after the April 1999 abduction of three children he had with an Oregon woman. The children were found unharmed in a national park in Florida.
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