NC woman accused of hiding corpse appears in court

AP News
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Posted: Dec 17, 2009 3:07 PM

As a woman accused of hiding her elderly mother's corpse for seven months had her first court appearance Thursday, a North Carolina law officer said the dead woman's family had continued to collect her Social Security payments after she died.

Amy Stewart asked for a court-appointed defense attorney when she appeared before a district court judge in Wilmington.

The 47-year-old did not enter a plea. She was charged Wednesday with concealing a dead body, a felony. Stewart posted bond and was released from jail.

The sheriff's office anticipates filing additional charges related to fraud, New Hanover County sheriff's deputy Charles Smith said. He said Blanche Matilda Roth's family had continued to collect her Social Security payments after her death and authorities are investigating.

Police responded to the family's home Tuesday after receiving a 911 call and found the body of the 87-year-old Roth in a bedroom. Police estimate that Roth, who was Stewart's mother, died in May.

In the 911 recording an unidentified male caller told an operator, "We have an ... elderly lady in the house who has died and we need her taken to the morgue."

When asked how long ago the woman had passed away, the caller replied, "I don't know, I'm going to say a month." The caller confirmed that the woman had died a month ago and was still in the house.

"She just died in the bed. She's been bedridden for a number of days, or weeks," the caller explained.

The recording was released Thursday by the New Hanover County Public Safety Communications Center.

Stewart declined to comment on the charges.

Neighbors were shocked Wednesday to hear of Roth's death.

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Associated Press writer Alysia Patterson in Raleigh contributed to this story.