Local News

Police: Burlington man hid mother's corpse

Posted September 1, 2010

— A Burlington man was charged Tuesday with hiding his mother's corpse in her home for about six months, police said Wednesday.

Don Lee Wade, 50, of 134 N. Ireland St., was being held in the Alamance County jail under a $10,000 secured bond on a charge of concealment of a death.

Burlington Housing Authority officials notified police on Aug. 25 that they had found a decomposed body inside a unit in a housing complex for senior citizens operated by the housing authority and located across the street from its offices.

Housing authority managers were conducting a routine inspection when they discovered the remains of 94-year-old Lucy Mae Hutchins Wade, police said. An autopsy determined that she died of natural causes about six months earlier.

Inspectors had tried to check on the home in recent months, but Don Wade repeatedly turned them away, saying his mother was away while recuperating from injuries suffered in a fall, said Ernest Mangum, executive director of the housing authority.

"They just assumed the son was telling them the truth," Mangum said.

Police noticed that someone had been collecting the dead woman's mail and newspapers, so they questioned her son.

Burlington man accused of hiding mother's body Burlington man accused of hiding mother's body

"He's indicated to us he was aware of her death, and for whatever reason, he just didn't feel that he should report it," said Greg Seel, assistant chief of the Burlington Police Department.

Neighbors said they didn't suspect anything was wrong, noting Lucy Mae Wade usually kept to herself. The only times they ever saw her, they said, was when she worked in the small garden in front of her home.

"I couldn't believe it. It was just a shock," neighbor Glenda Faye Brown said.

Brown and other neighbors said they never smelled any strange odors coming from the Wade home.

"She was a great tenant, a really good person, very tiny lady, soft-spoken," Mangum said. "She deserved better than that. How could some family member do something like that?"

Seel said investigators don't know why Don Wade didn't report the death. He had cashed several of his mother's Social Security checks, but he also paid her rent and utility bills, he said.

He speculated that Don Wade, who has no previous criminal record, might not have been able to cope with her death, so he tried to continue as if nothing had happened.

Police are working with the Social Security Administration to determine exactly how much money was cashed in the checks.

In March, a Wilmington woman pleaded guilty to hiding her mother's corpse in her home for several months to collect more than $8,300 in Social Security checks and state retirement benefits.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • Its My Prerogative Sep 2, 2010


    You get a ROUND OF APPLAUSE (from me anyway)!!!! SO VERY TRUE!!!!! It's sad people always have to have someone to blame!!

    Prayers for the rest of this woman's family and may her son....umm well NO COMMENT!!!

  • wildcat Sep 2, 2010

    There are some really sick people in this world. Social Services should often talk or check with the people in person who receives checks.

  • delilahk2000 Sep 1, 2010


  • Baybee Doll Sep 1, 2010


  • henry1 Sep 1, 2010

    Why is it, that almost every story, no matter how tragic or sad, there is always some right wing nutjob that links it to liberals, Democrats or President Obama? I guess there is truth in the old saying if the only tool(or thought) you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail.

  • UPTOP Sep 1, 2010

    Did he not think the odor might one day give him away ?

  • GWALLY Sep 1, 2010

    ..."EBT Card - Getting food stamps. It's your right...."

    EBT Card - Getting food stamps. It's your right.The Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card is the identification card for the SNAP/Food Stamp Program. On the back is a magnetic strip that works in the ...
    www.gettingfoodstamps.org/ebtcard.htm - Cached - Similar

    Yep, that's right NOW it's a "right"....no wonder America is broke and taxes are going thru the roof....all these "rights and entitlements" the liberal/entitlement democrats and nomobama have given as bribes for votes!!!!!!!

  • tommys5 Sep 1, 2010


    For everyone who has not been lucky or unlucky depending on your outlook this is how the EBT card works.

  • tommys5 Sep 1, 2010

    I really feel sorry for him. He just might have to go to work now.

  • thefensk Sep 1, 2010

    Yeah, I figure he was living there on the sly, living off her SS ... maybe the checks were autodeposited, maybe they weren't but using an ATM for deposits isn't that hard. If he was paying the rent and the bills he must have been living there. Wouldn't be surprised to find out he's hiding out from something else like child support or something. It would be basically living off the grid.