North Carolina Man Charged with Allegedly Murdering and Burying Roommate in Shallow Backyard Grave

Elvin Noel Baca has been charged with first degree murder and failure to report a death

<p>The New Hanover County Sheriff

The New Hanover County Sheriff's Office/Facebook

Mugshot of Elvin Noel Baca, who was arrested for allegedly murdering his roommate.

A North Carolina man has been charged with first-degree murder and failure to report a death after the body of his roommate was discovered "buried in a shallow grave" in a backyard, authorities said.

Elvin Noel Baca was arrested by the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday, after his 69-year-old roommate, Lawrence Grabka, was reported missing by a friend and later found dead after police "unearthed the tragic reality of a homicide," the department wrote in a post on Facebook.

According to NBC affiliate WECT, Baca, 34, later appeared in New Hanover County court on Thursday, when it was decided he would be held without bond.

He's next due in court on April 18, the outlet said. WWAY reported that Baca has obtained a court-appointed attorney, though PEOPLE was unable to reach them for comment on Saturday.

<p>The New Hanover County Sheriff's Office/Facebook</p> Elvin Noel Baca

The New Hanover County Sheriff's Office/Facebook

Elvin Noel Baca

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Police said on social media that their welfare check at the North Carolina residence where they first met with Baca led to the discovery that the missing man was murdered and buried in the "shallow grave."

Detectives used "meticulous forensic work" to make the discovery, police said, before the suspect was arrested and held without bond at the New Hanover County Detention Facility. His status on the sheriff's office website as of Saturday is listed as "waiting for trial."

“The circumstances surrounding this case are deeply concerning, and our thoughts are with the victim’s loved ones during this difficult time; our priority remains seeking justice for the victim,” Sheriff Edward McMahon wrote in a statement.

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A 911 caller told police before Grabka's body was found that he hadn't picked up his phone and his door was unlocked, WECT reported.

Since the discovery of Grabka's body, his friend, Katherine Roush, told the outlet that he was "the sweetest man in the world" and "did not deserve" to die.

“He was just the kind of guy, you know, if you met him, you’d want to chat with him. You’d want to chat with him and get to know him better. He was just a sweetheart," she added.

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Roush previously lived with Grabka as his roommate before Baca moved in.

“I warned him. Get rid of this guy, and he was so nice that he didn’t want to kick him out on the street," she said of Grabka's roommate relationship with Baca. ”That’s why I told Larry for a long time, ‘He’s not right Larry and you don’t know what he’s capable of, so please, let’s get somebody else to rent the room.’ ”

She also told WECT that she saw Baca on "the night he probably did it."

"Larry wasn’t answering his phone," she recalled. "So, I stopped in and Larry wasn’t home. [Baca] was sitting in his car. He said he hadn’t seen him and he smiled at me and told me he loved me. Yeah, I can’t get that image out of my head."

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