Investigators believe man's body was kept by wife for 15 years.
New Mexico authorities say two family members that were cleaning out the Carlsbad home of a deceased relative found a body stuffed inside a chest freezer.
The pair found the body while removing the freezer from the bedroom of their relative, Barbara Sharpe, who had recently died.
Although the remains were first thought to be those of an animal, an Eddy County Sheriff's spokesman says the body is believed to be Sharpe's husband, James, who disappeared in 1997.
They say before her death Barbara Sharpe told a healthcare worker that the body was in the freezer in her bedroom, but that the worker didn't believe her.
Deputies also say a document found in Sharpe's home believed to have been written by her states that she hid her husband's body because she couldn't afford to survive without his retirement income.
The state Office of the Medical Investigator in Albuquerque will rule on the cause of death.