LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - UPDATE: The charge against a man accused of killing his girlfriend in Lake County have been upgraded to first-degree murder, authorities said. However, the reason for the upgraded charge has not been released.
Earlier: A man was arrested and charged with second-degree murder after he put his girlfriend’s body in the trunk of a car and drove around Volusia and Lake counties before he was pulled over by deputies, investigators said.
Detectives said Elizabeth Hellstrom's ear was nearly ripped off, and there was a laceration over he left eye, and she were bruises throughout her body.
An autopsy revealed “blunt trauma to the body and signs of strangulation.”
Deputies discovered the body of 56-year-old Hellstrom in the trunk of a car that had been driven by her boyfriend, William “Wild Bill” Roberts, during a high-speed chase Thursday from Volusia County into the Royal Trail subdivision in Lake County.
Deputies in Volusia County spotted Roberts and tried to pull him over, but he sped into Lake County.
Deputies said they used stop sticks to end the chase.
"The deputies knew when they opened up the car that there was a dead body in it," said Fred Jones of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.
K-9 units tracked Roberts to his home which was less than a half-mile away.
Before the chase, deputies said the couple had been listed as missing and endangered.
"So, for days, they were out there looking to see if they could find the vehicle," Jones said.
Deputies said the search began after they got a call from one of Robert's friends who had received disturbing text messages from Roberts about Hellstrom.
"She (Hellstrom) had died of a drug overdose, and he tried to revive her, and he was unable to revive her, and that he wanted to die with her," Jones said.
Roberts told officers that he put her body in the trunk, and he was planning to go into the woods, take pills and use a propane tank “to go with her.”
"He was going to turn it on and go to sleep with it on," Jones said.
Roberts was initially arrested on charges of fleeing and eluding and storage and preservation of human remains, before being charged with murder.
He is being held in the Lake County Jail without bail.
© 2018 Cox Media Group.