A severed leg that washed ashore in St. Petersburg, Fla., two days after Christmas belonged to a woman who vanished with her girlfriend earlier in December.
Police revealed this week that DNA tests proved the dismembered limb belonged to Kelly Moriarty, 38, who was last seen in the Plant City home of Doris Carter on Dec. 16.
The DNA tests solves the mystery of the leg, which was found by Canadian tourists, but makes the disappearance of Moriarty and Carter, 61, more dire. Moriarty has been pronounced dead, media reports said.
Carter lived with her adult daughter, Stacey Muralt. When Muralt awoke on Dec. 17, Carter and Moriarty were gone, as was Moriarty's vehicle. But the daughter waited until Jan. 29 to call police about the couple, who have been in a romantic yet rocky relationship for two years, Hillsborough County Sheriff's Department officials said.
It wasn't unusual for Carter and Moriarty to spend extended periods away from home, Muralt told police.
Carter and Moriarty had a tumultuous relationship, Muralt told broadcaster WFTS. "They fought a lot," she said.
Both women had accused the other of domestic violence, filing injunctions for protection, Muralt said. Carter allegedly never drove anywhere without a gun and kept a duffel bag full of firearms in her bedroom, according to WFTS.
The details of the women's disappearance were slow to crystalize because disparate clues were spread across several Florida police departments.
Sheriff's deputies in Manatee County found Moriarty's abandoned car on the side of the road on Dec. 20, but there was no evidence of a crime, ABC News said.
A week later, the leg surfaced on the edge of Tampa Bay. St. Petersburg police examined it, but don't match it to any crimes they were investigating.
On Jan. 27, the manager of Moriarty's apartment called her brother because Moriarty's rent was overdue and he is the emergency contact on record.
The brother visited his sibling's Bradenton apartment and found a Christmas tree still standing with unopened presents from the holiday season. Concerned about what that might mean, her brother reported Moriarty missing.
On Jan. 28, Bradenton cops investigating Moriarty's disappearance visited Carter's apartment where Muralt said she hasn't seen the women for more than a month. She filed an official missing person report for her mother the next day.
The various investigations into the severed leg, the abandoned car and the two missing women are eventually bundled together and headed by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Department. Hillsborough detectives learned of the leg from St. Petersburg police after cops in that city ruled it wasn't connected to any investigations there.
Moriarty's family members provided DNA samples of their missing relative which were positively identified as a match.