Dinner Party Ends in Chilling Discovery

Dinner guest finds body in host's freezer while packing away leftovers.

July 6, 2007 — -- A dinner party came to an abrupt and chilling end when a dinner guest discovered the body of the host's wife stashed in a freezer.

The invitee made the macabre discovery while putting away leftover meat after dinner Tuesday night at the home of Didier Charron in the small town of Verviers in eastern Belgium.

"After washing the dishes, she took the leftovers of the meal down to the basement," Christine Wilwerth, the Verviers public prosecutor, told reporters. "Once she opened the Deep Freeze, she discovered the body."

The guest quietly left the house and alerted police, who arrested Charron, 42, for suspicion of murder. Upon searching the freezer, police found not only the corpse of his wife, Chantal Bernard, 46, but also the body of her 11-year-old son, Bryan. Charron directed officers to the unexpected second discovery.

"It was the suspect who told us that the boy's body was lying just underneath his mother's," Wilwerth said. "Since the freezer is very narrow, his body was not visible at first."

Charron was arraigned before a grand jury today and was ordered to remain in jail pending a complete investigation. Bail was denied because he is considered a danger to the community.

According to the prosecutor's office, authorities have yet to determine how and when the two murders took place. They must wait for the bodies to thaw from their frozen state before they can conduct autopsies. Charron reportedly confessed to investigators that he had a violent quarrel with his wife during which he grabbed a knife and stabbed her. He did not, however, reveal the circumstances leading to his stepson's death.

"Even without a complete confession, the evidence is stacking up against him," Wilwerth said.

This was not the first time police had been called to Charron's home. The police department has a thick file on him documenting a history of domestic abuse and a propensity for getting drunk.

"We know that the couple was under difficult circumstances," Alan Bonnivert, deputy prosecutor for Verviers, told ABC News. "On many occasions, police were forced to respond to domestic disputes, many of which had turned violent. In fact, the suspect was due to appear in court on Sept. 12 for domestic violence."

Authorities are investigating whether a missing-persons report was filed for the wife or stepson. "Our initial findings are that it had not been done," Wilwerth said. "What we do know is that the victim had every intention of filing for divorce. The constant beatings at the hands of her husband were likely the main reason. The woman was tired of being a victim of her husband's mood swings."

It is unclear what exactly precipitated the deaths or whether the tragic sequence of events could have been prevented, but neighbors said red flags should have been raised.

A neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Belgium newspaper La Derniere Heure: "I knew him very well. Didier is a very violent man, especially when he has had a drink and is no longer master of his words or actions. Even though this drama is terrible, it could have happened earlier. For my part, I alerted police on a number of occasions following his aggressive behavior toward me and my son."

Another neighbor asked: "How did we not notice that the little boy was not going to school anymore? I hear that the deaths were not recent. I think that such a long absence should have raised some questions or investigation."

The stepson last attended school April 12, Bonnivert told ABC News.

"In Belgium, these kinds of crimes usually occur after the spouse has decided to leave," Bonnivert said. "Unfortunately, in this case, the victim decided to stay."