PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Police are questioning the roommate of a 70-year-old missing Frankford man and two others after finding human remains inside of his apartment Thursday evening. Police have confirmed the remains of Robert Derer, 70, were found in a large plastic bin.
Derer was killed by multiple blunt impact injuries, according to the medical examiner, and the case has now been ruled a homicide.
Family members reported Derer missing around 1 p.m. Thursday. He had not been heard from since Monday.
Derer reportedly left his apartment on the 1600 block of Fillmore Street to get pizza Monday evening and had not been seen or heard from since.
Officers showed up to the apartment on Thursday and noticed blood on the door.
Nearby neighbors say the 70-year-old had only been living at the apartment for about a month, and the rest of the poeple who live there are in their 20s. Right now, police can’t say for certain how long the body was in the container, but it was likely a matter of days.
Neighbors who watched the police activity say seeing the container come out of the house was horrifying.
“They were only in there for like 30 minutes before they brought out a blue bin, like a clothes bin. It was sad like I don’t understand how they could do that to somebody,” neighbor Lisa Farinella said.
Investigators suspect Derer’s 28-year-old roommate and the roommate’s 25-year-old brother are involved.
Ross says the roommate’s brother is in the hospital with a “problem,” and he will be questioned once he is released.
Another person is also being questioned.
A neighbor says she’s worried about the safety of herself and neighbors.
“A little weird because we’re neighbors and things can go a little crazy next door to you,” Saquita Ruffin said. “I’m a little worried for the safety of my neighbors and myself.”
Derer’s niece, Janet Baker, released a statement on the family’s behalf late Friday night:
“While the world is watching and learning about Robert Derer in the saddest and most unbelievable situation possible, our family would like to make sure that the world also knows about the man his family and friends knew and loved.
Bob was first and foremost a loving member of our family. He was a wonderful son, brother, godfather, partner, and uncle too many nieces and nephews. Many people considered him a loyal friend and he was the best type of friend that anyone could ask for.
Bob touched many lives and will be missed by many.
In Bob’s younger years he was a great educator and after retiring he worked as a paralegal for many years. His biggest accomplishments were his love for life and the world in general. During his travels he experienced beauty that many people will never see.
Bob had the biggest heart, the brightest smile, and a laugh that could open the heavens.
We ask that when you think of our beloved Bob you understand what a wonderful and unique person he was and the mark that will be forever left on this world.
The family asks that after you hear or read this statement that you make a point to do something special or kind in memory of him.”
An investigation is ongoing.
(CBS3 reporter Trang Do contributed to this report.)