Woman who kept mom's body and benefits charged
Fri May 8, 2009 10:57am EDT
MIAMI (Reuters) - A Florida woman has been indicted for keeping her dead mother's body in a bedroom for six years while collecting more than $200,000 in pension benefits, U.S. prosecutors said on Thursday.
Penelope Sharon Jordan of Sebastian, Florida, was charged by a federal grand jury last week with Social Security fraud and theft, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami said.
Police found the decaying body of her mother, Timmie Jordan, on a bed in a spare bedroom at the mother's home in late March, when they were called to investigate a report of nuisance cats.
Penelope Jordan told police her mother had died in 2003.
The indictment alleged Jordan concealed her mother's death in order to receive both her U.S. Social Security benefits and her military survivor's benefit.
Jordan collected $61,415 from Social Security and $176,461 from the military pension during the six years, prosecutors said.
She could face up to 15 years in prison.
Local media reported that the 61-year-old woman told police her mother died of old age and she kept the remains because she couldn't afford burial expenses. An autopsy found no signs of foul play.
According to a local paper, police found many cats on Jordan's property but she denied they were hers.
(Reporting by Jim Loney, editing by Jane Sutton and Sandra Maler)
According to interview records released Tuesday, Penelope Sharon Jordan had maintained the ruse over the deception of the fate of Timmie Jordan since 2003.
BY Lamaur Stancil • SCRIPPS-TREASURE COAST NEWSPAPERS • March 24, 2009
SEBASTIAN — The woman who kept her mother’s remains in a bedroom of their home for six years told police she never reported the death because she couldn’t afford burial expenses, according to a report by Scripps-Treasure Coast newspapers.
According to interview records released Tuesday, Penelope Sharon Jordan had maintained the ruse over the deception of the fate of Timmie Jordan since 2003. The story she gave to a Sebastian officer Monday morning was that her mother, who was born in 1913, was living in Melbourne. However, officers said Penelope Jordan couldn’t provide an address for where her mother was staying.
The officers said they discovered the truth when she allowed them inside her Wimbrow Drive home. Timmie Jordan’s decaying body was found on a bed in a cluttered bedroom, the arrest affidavit said.
The 61-year-old day care teacher told police her mother died from old age in 2003, according to interview records. An autopsy performed Tuesday at the state Medical Examiner’s Office in Fort Pierce showed no evidence of foul play, police spokesman Steve Marcinik said. Detectives will attribute Timmie Jordan’s death to natural causes, Marcinik said. The body has been sent to the University of Florida for another review, which may take several weeks.
Penelope Jordan admitted to continuing to collect her mother’s Social Security checks past her reported death, according to the police interview. Detectives charged her with grand theft and fraud. The government mailed $800 checks to the Jordan home monthly, totaling $60,000 since 2003, the arrest affidavit said.
Police said Timmie Jordan’s passing may have remained secret for so long because there were no immediate family members livingnearby.
“We’re aware of a sister of Penelope’s who lives in Africa,” Marcinik said. “I’m told she has been notified about what happened.”
Many of the residents in the 500 block of Wimbrow moved into their homes in the six years since Timmie Jordan’s reported death. Others, such as Theda Furtado, have lived in the neighborhood for decades and recalled the Jordans as a family that kept to themselves.
“We moved in 31 years ago, and they were always very standoffish,” Furtado said. “They had a tall chain link fence around their property for a while.”
Authorities were alerted to the Jordan home after a complaint about nuisance cats from the home Friday. Indian River County Animal Control manager Jason Ogilvie said his officers have been called to the neighborhood several times a year to trap cats there.
“(Penelope Jordan) always denied the cats were hers,” Ogilvie said. “But our officer saw eight of them on her front door step Friday.”
The front door to the home was open, but no one was home, which led the animal control officer to call police to check if there had been a burglary, Ogilvie said.
“The cats have been a problem ever since we’ve lived here,” Furtado said.
Jordan was being held in lieu of $20,000 bail Tuesday at the Indian River County Jail.
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