By Pamela Perkins
Blood had been on the wall at 520 Carpenter.
But resident Mark Skolburg told police he learned a thing or two from watching a TV crime drama. The evidence was painted over by the time Memphis police showed up Wednesday to investigate a human skull found in his backyard.
Skolburg, 45, the Binghamton man whom police had questioned about the skull, was charged late Friday with second-degree murder.
Investigators believe he killed a woman with whom he had argued inside the house, then buried the body in his backyard several months ago, according to an affidavit of complaint filed in General Sessions court.
On Saturday, Skolburg was being held in the Shelby County Jail on a $2 million bond.
The owner of the house, Elizabeth Terrell, and another woman identified by court and police documents as Skolburg's stepsister, apparently found the skull and called police.
Upon excavating the site, authorities found the rest of the decomposed body of a woman. The Shelby County Medical Examiner ruled that the victim died from a blow to the head.
According to the affidavit: Skolburg said that sometime last spring or early summer he and the victim had been alone in his bedroom. They argued about money and he got angry. He said he could not remember assaulting her. But he remembered finding her dead in his bedroom, then digging the hole and burying her body in it.
He identified her as "Michelle."
When the investigation began, Skolburg was already in jail on assault charges. His stepsister accused him of threatening and then beating her on Christmas Eve, according to a police report. Skolburg had gotten drunk and asked her to pray with him. He then became enraged and began beating her. She told police that her stepbrother had mental problems and should not have been drinking.
Skolburg has had other legal troubles in recent years: violating probation from a DUI conviction, theft, vandalism and panhandling.
Albert Grandberry, his neighbor a couple of doors away on Carpenter, said Skolburg seemed nice enough.
"He came and borrowed eggs and everything from me," said Grandberry, who added that Skolburg moved in about nine months ago and worked temporary jobs. "He was all right."
He said Skolburg kept at least two dogs, one in his fenced front yard, another in the back.
Grandberry said when the property owner came to visit the house on Dec. 30, "about five or 10 minutes later, she came out in a rage, screaming. She screamed, saying she found remains."
After hearing Skolburg's statement, investigators tested the bedroom floor for blood, according to the affidavit. It tested positive. They asked Skolburg about the bedroom walls and ceiling, which appeared to have been recently painted.
Skolburg's answer reads: "'Yea, I painted the walls of the bedroom; I watch "CSI." Blood was on the wall.' "