Raymond Bettley had an afternoon of yardwork planned Thursday, but those plans came to an abrupt halt shortly after 4 p.m. when he found the body of a young woman behind his shed.
"When I walked outside I saw the body," he said Thursday evening as he stood in the street in front of his roped-off home as police came and went from his backyard. "I didn't think it was real."
But it was real -- that of a white woman in her 20s or 30s, he said.
"I didn't touch it -- I went back in the house and called the police," he said.
The woman was fully clothed, he said, and didn't have any apparent wounds but looked like she had been banged up. She has blond hair that was pulled back in a ponytail and looked like it was shaved on one side, he said.
He couldn't tell if the body was dumped or if the woman had fallen, he said. It was behind his shed by a pile of firewood and was partially hanging off a table, he said. The woman was facing away from him so he couldn't see her face, he said, but he didn't think she was anyone he knew.
It wasn't clear how long the body had been there, but police were investigating whether the body was connected to a missing persons report made earlier in the day, according to police.
His yard at 388 Woodin Street is fenced in, Bettley said, and it would be impossible to get back there from anywhere but the front yard. It had been a few weeks since he had been in the back of the yard, he said, so he had no idea how long the body could have been there.
"The only way to get back there is from the front," he said. "There's no way in from the back."
Behind his house is other homes, he said.
"I called my wife and told her and she was completely shocked," he said.
So too was Bettley's neighbor, Abdullah Latif.
"Things like this don't happen around here," he said of his neighborhood of neatly-kept single-family homes off Dixwell Avenue.
There's the occasional break-in, Bettley said, but nothing more major than that.
Police have not yet commented on the incident. If police deem this a murder it would be the first of the year in Hamden.