A former scene photographer with LGBTI publication Dallas Voice has confessed to killing his former landlord and disposing of his body. Police say he then stole his victim’s identity and sold his home.
Ronald Shumway, aged 57, mysteriously disappeared in April 2015. Human remains encased in concrete were discovered last September in the back yard of the home he had owned for 30 years after the new occupants complained of a bad smell.
It was only through DNA analysis that authorities – after six months – were able to identify the decomposed remains as Shumway’s.
Following the identification of Shumway’s body, earlier this month, detectives travelled to Los Angeles and arrested Shumway’s former tenant, Christopher (‘Christian’) Brian Colbert, 43 – who had previously been leasing half of the duplex owned by Shumway.
Colbert told police that the two had lived together but ‘went back to being friends’ after he moved out of Shumway’s house. The exact nature of their former relationship is not known, although some press reports have speculated that they were romantically involved with one another.
Colbert has been charged with murder, money laundering and deception – fraudulently posing as the dead man and selling his north Oak Cliff home.
He is also accused of spending $40,000 on Shumway’s debit card.
According to an arrest warrant released yesterday, Colbert initially denied the charges against him.
However, when confronted with evidence, including the fact that he had been identified as the person posing as Shumway to sell the property and that he had bought bags of cement – he confessed that he had killed Shumway.
However, he claims that he did so in self defense after the two got into an argument. He said Shumway had tried to choke him and that he had choked him back.
Shumway’s remains showed signs of strangulation, and his hands and feet had been tied with neckties. Police describe his death as being the result of ‘homicidal violence’.
Colbert admitted wrapping the body in a black plastic sheet and burying it in concrete.
Shumway was a bus driver with the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART). Following his disappearance, his superiors at DART received an email, purportedly from Shumway, saying he was resigning from his job, reports KHOU.
In early May, a posting appeared on Shumway’s Facebook page saying that he had moved to Austin after finding his ‘midnight cowboy’ and saying he was ‘loving the ranch life’.
In May 2015, a broker says that he was contacted by someone via Craigslist by a man wanting to sell Shumway’s house. He met the man, later identified as Colbert, three days later.
Colbert worked as an LGBTI scene photographer for the Dallas Voice between 2003-2006. By day, he also worked as a hair stylist.
When it came to providing ID, an escrow officer handling the exchange of money received a faxed copy of Shumway’s driving license. Police believe that Colbert super-imposed his own photo on top of Shumway’s license.
Colbert, who remains in LA County jail, is awaiting extradition to Texas. His bond is set at $150,000.