Police say man hid body of 18-year-old before dumping it in the desert

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- An 18-year-old's body was found tossed in the desert, weeks after his family reported him missing. Now, the suspect accused of dumping the body is behind bars.

According to Peoria Police, 29-year-old Zachary Nowak and the victim were using heroin together, but when the teen overdosed, Nowak allegedly fabricated a lie about his death that lasted weeks.

Living right next door for months, Georgette Carter says she suspected Nowak, 29, was involved in drug activity, but not tied to negligent homicide.

"He's a drug dealer, but we didn't suspect anything else, but this kid was always trouble," said Carter.

Surveillance video shows Peoria Police speaking to two men outside a home, located on the 7400 block of W. Carol Avenue a little more than two weeks ago. According to neighbors, one of the men is Nowak. Investigators say officers asked about someone possibly overdosing at Nowak's home, and Nowak allegedly told them everyone was fine. At that very moment, however, police say the victim's body was hidden inside Nowak's room.

On Tuesday afternoon, police returned to the home, following leads on the missing person report, and looking for Nowak.

"They were here all night, pulling stuff out of the garage," said Carter.

Authorities found the victim's body some 90 miles away, in La Paz County. It had been dumped on the side of Vicksburg Road. just south of the I-10 Within the same hour, police arrested Nowak near his home. They say he admitted to using heroin with the victim, not providing medical aid when he overdosed, then hiding the body in his bedroom before dumping it in the desert.

Carter says her family is relieved Nowak is in jail.

"We always lock up the house, and we were gonna buy a security gate because we didn't know if he was gonna do anything to our home," said Carter.

Nowak could face additional charges, and he is being held on a $50,000 bond. His next court appearance is on March 6th.