State News

More charges expected in hidden-corpse case

Posted December 17, 2009

— New Hanover County Sheriff Ed McMahon said Thursday that investigators expect to file more charges in the case of an elderly woman whose body was concealed in a Wilmington home for months after her death.

Amy Blanche Stewart, 45, of 612 Cherry Laurel Court, was charged Wednesday with concealing a dead body, a felony. She made her initial court appearance Thursday morning and asked for a court-appointed defense attorney.

Home of Amy Blanche Stewart in Wilmington Sheriff: Body could have been in home for months

Deputies responded to the family's home Tuesday after receiving a 911 call and found the body of Stewart's 88-year-old mother, Blanche Matilda Roth, in a bedroom.

McMahon declined to say who called 911.

An unidentified man told the 911 dispatcher that the woman died in her bed and needed to be taken to the morgue.

"How long ago did this happen?" the dispatcher asked about her death.

"I don't know. I'm going to say a month," the man said.

"You believe that she passed away a month ago, but she's still in the house," the dispatcher asked.

Authorities estimate Roth died in May. A preliminary autopsy hasn't determined a cause of death, but McMahon said there was no evidence of foul play.

"When you hear something like this, your first reaction is, 'It can't be true.' You go through all the emotions, (thinking) how can a family member do something like this?" he said.

Stewart, who was released on bond, declined to comment on the charges. A man who answered the door at the family's home also declined to comment.

McMahon said it appears the death wasn't reported for financial reasons, noting the family continued to collect Roth's Social Security checks and other benefits in recent months.

Neighbors said Stewart, her husband and three children, ages 23, 17 and 15, have lived in a single-story home at the end of a cul-de-sac in a middle-class neighborhood in north Wilmington for about three years. Stewart's husband is in a wheelchair, and she doesn't have a job so she can stay home and care for him, according to neighbors.

Neighbors said they never suspected anything was wrong at the house, but one nearby resident, Benjamin Kenner, said the family had many visitors.

"I see a lot of people coming and going – cars, different cars, coming and going at all times of the night," Kinner said.

In addition to possibly charging others in the family with concealing Roth's death, McMahon said, Stewart could be charged with fraud in the case.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • xxxxxxxxxxxxx Dec 17, 2009

    I wonder what the children are going to say to potential spouses when they ask about their childhoods?

    "Well, Grandma died when I was 8. We buried her when I was 12."

  • xxxxxxxxxxxxx Dec 17, 2009

    Can you imagine these people watching television, doing homework, having family dinners, etc., with a rotting corpse in the back bedroom? What did they do for Thanksgiving? And were they all going to gather around the tree and sing Christmas carols while Grandma decomposed in the spare room?

  • YipesStripes Dec 17, 2009

    Awful story, but did anyone chuckle that the sheriff's name is Ed McMahon?

  • euimport Dec 17, 2009

    the whole family and all that knew about this are guilty of social security fraud as well as the obvious. why work?

  • dlentz2 Dec 17, 2009

    I'll bet they got her check while she was living too. Sick, Sick people.

  • Go Figure Dec 17, 2009

    ow WE Taxpayers have to pay for HER defense/three hots and a cot....what is WRONG with this picture??

  • ranquick Dec 17, 2009

    This is totally SICK, I am sure the she is not only one in family that knew her mom was dead, the entire family needs to be charged with some sort of crime and they all need to sit down and talk to a SRINK!!!!! Just goes to show how sick and selfish some can be!!!!

  • welfare blows Dec 17, 2009

    What a sorry individual !!!!!!!

  • TruthBKnown Banned Again02 Dec 17, 2009

    "Money is the root of all evil"

    Actually, money isn't the root of all evil. The LOVE of money is the root of all evil (not being nitpicky, but we all need money -- it's not evil until you LOVE it enough to do ridiculous things in order to get more of it...)

    And sometimes, the LACK of money is also the root of all evil! ;)

  • BraveHeart Dec 17, 2009

    Man...this one takes the cake!!