We put photos of his tattoos up on this blog -- a rat in a top hat, smoking a cigarette; a grinning shark; a winged heart bearing the name "Lena." They were the only identifying features police found on a body that had been burned, dismembered, and abandoned near railroad tracks in far southeast Dallas on May 5.
But they were as good as any photo ID.
Because a little over two weeks later, after friends recognized John Flatt's unmistakable ink, police arrested his roommates, Angel Javier Tovar and Johnny Ehrich, on suspicion of murder. Another roommate, an unidentified woman, told police she woke in the middle of the night to the sound of three gunshots. She walked into the living room and saw Ehrich. He told her to go back to bed. When she got up for work that morning, she saw Flatt lying across the couch, apparently lifeless. She was scared, so she went to work.
At mid-morning, she took a break and came home. Ehrich allegedly met her at the door and told her to come back later. They were "taking care of some business." Hours later, the house was empty and Flatt's body was gone. It was found two days later in a clearing. Once he was identified and a crime scene was found, detectives set to work, apparently with a camera crew from 'The First 48' in tow. The episode premieres Thursday night.
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You know the investigation was gruesome when a detective peers into a freezer and says, "I wonder what they did with that head." In a later scene, one of the detectives appraises a reciprocating saw.
Another pearl from a homicide detective in the episode: Pointing to a movie poster in one of the bedrooms, the detective observes, "There's always 'Scarface' in the picture."