PORT HURON (WWJ/AP) - An Oregon woman has been arraigned on charges of improperly disposing of a body after her 89-year-old mother’s corpse was found under blankets and snow behind a southeastern Michigan thrift store.
The St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department says 49-year-old Kelly Rhodes of Salem, Ore., appeared Wednesday in Port Huron District Court. Rhodes, who stood mute to the charge, was ordered jailed on a $10,000 bond. She’s due back in court for a preliminary examination on April 15.
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 Grenia 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 Rhodes, 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 weeks later 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.
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