After Neighbor Finds Skull, Cops Find Homemade Guillotine

Police believe squatter lived with California man's remains for months
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 9, 2021 5:11 AM CST
Police Believe Man Killed Himself With Guillotine
Robert Melvin Ross.   (Sonoma County Sheriff's Office)

(Newser) – A California man described by neighbors as an "unbelievable craftsman" apparently used those skills to take his own life with a homemade guillotine—and the case only gets more disturbing from there. The death of Robert Enger, who was 62 years old when he was last seen in July 2019, was uncovered after his skull was found in a neighbor's backyard in Santa Rosa, the Los Angeles Times reports. Investigators believe Enger's head was separated from his body not by his contraption—which impaled him with a spike—but by Robert Melvin Ross III, a methamphetamine user who moved into Enger's home in late 2020 and apparently lived with the man's remains for some time.

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Neighbors say Enger was friendly and helpful but struggled with mental health issues, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports. He told neighbors he had been sexually abused by a high-ranking Marine as a child and feared the military was following him. Police say Ross, 25, moved into the home after hearing from other homeless people that it was vacant. Santa Rosa Police Det. Anthony Turner says Ross invited other meth users to party at the home, which "was just absolutely filthy and just filled with debris, trash, foods, piles of stuff." Enger's headless remains were found under trash.

After the skull was found in March this year, a person who had been to a party at the home told police they had seen Ross remove the head from the body and scrape it with a knife. Police say Ross told them he found Enger's body under the homemade guillotine. Enger "placed himself under that contraption, manipulated it, was killed, and then his body was manipulated later by Robert Ross and others," Turner tells the Press Democrat. Ross pleaded no contest in November to one count of possession of a memento from human remains but later tried to withdraw the plea, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. (Read more California stories.)

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