PORT HURON TWP. (WWJ/AP) – An Oregon woman has been charged with disposing of a body improperly after the corpse of her 89-year-old mother was found behind a Michigan thrift store.
The St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department said 49-year-old Kelly Rhodes of Salem, Ore. is jailed in Illinois, where she was arrested on a warrant charging her with the misdemeanor. She’s expected to be brought to Michigan next week.
Authorities said the body of Mary Gertrude Grenia, of Salem, Ore., was found March 12 behind the Goodwill store in Port Huron Township, about 55 miles northeast of Detroit. Authorities said Grenia’s body was hidden for more than a week under snow and blankets. She was identified using X-ray comparison from medical records.
Sheriff’s officials initially believed the woman was not a victim of foul play — until an investigation showed otherwise. A cause of death hasn’t been released.
Graham Sweeney of Hamilton, Ontario, told the Times Herald of Port Huron he doesn’t believe his fiancée is responsible for dumping the body.
“I would strongly, strongly doubt it,” the 52-year-old said. “I’d lay my life on the line that she didn’t because it’s not of her nature or her soul.”
Sweeney said Rhodes was traveling to marry him in Canada when her mother died. He said he received a call from Rhodes on March 9 when she woke up after sleeping in her vehicle and found her mother dead.
Rhodes allegedly told Sweeney she was dropping off furniture at the Goodwill store when someone she met in the area called a person to cremate the body. Sweeney said Rhodes paid that person $200.
“She was conned,” he said.
Rhodes was found in Belleville, Ill., where she was arrested at the home of relatives, the sheriff’s department said. If convicted, she faces up to a year behind bars. The case is under investigation, and the department said additional charges could be sought against Rhodes.
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