Local News

Goldsboro woman found dead in freezer ID'ed; daughter charged with concealing death

Posted June 3, 2016

Marcella Jean Lee

— Goldsboro police on Friday identified a 75-year-old woman found dead in a freezer last week and charged her daughter with a felony for failing to report her death.

The body of Arma Ann Roush, a resident of 1723 B Holly St., was discovered Friday by a neighbor who had purchased the freezer for $30 at a yard sale held in May.

The freezer and Roush's body were sent to the State Medical Examiner's Office over the weekend, and an autopsy on her body listed her death as "unknown" with no apparent signs of foul play, police said. Roush's body was intact and not dismembered in any way.

Roush, who authorities say lived with her daughter, Marcella Jean Lee, was last seen alive in August 2015. Lee, 56, has been charged with a felony for failing to report her mother's death. On Friday, authorities were working to locate Lee, who was last seen in West Virginia.

Goldsboro police said they are continuing to investigate how Roush's body ended up in the freezer and if any other crimes have occurred since her death. More charges are expected in the case, authorities said Friday.

Don Peters, who lives nearby, said he would ask Lee about her mom, but her story constantly changed.

"First, it was she's in the hospital, then it was a rest home, then it was she was in a coma," he said.

Peters said he now believes the whole time Roush was likely dead.

The woman who purchased the freezer said the seller told her the items inside the freezer were for a Sunday school project and that the church would come pick them up. Three weeks after the purchase, no one had come for the items, so the woman, who wants to remain anonymous, opened the freezer and discovered Roush's remains.

"I was just in shock," she said. "I opened it up for a second time, and my heart went into my throat. I ran out of the house and called 911."

She said she was overwhelmed when she made the call.

"I was hysterical at first, but after a while, after I was able to comprehend what was going on, I was able to calm down," she said.


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  • Mary Meadows Jun 3, 2016
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    It just doesn't make sense. Obviously she wanted to keep getting her moms checks but if she went to all the trouble to lie and hide her mothers death - to turn around and sell it at the yard sale was plain stupid. Someone could have opened it right in the yard while she was there. By selling it she pointed a finger directly at herself. Either mentally ill or very low IQ or a combination of the two. Some of the things that I read about other people doing just leaves me dumbfounded. I would no more put someone I love in a freezer then I would willingly cut my legs off. Beyond comprehension.

  • TJ Wahoo Jun 3, 2016
    user avatar

    Might have been accidental. "Help! I've fallen in my freezer and I can't get out."

  • Kris Dawn Jun 3, 2016
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    Also, am I the only person who would have looked in the freezer at the yard sale? lol

  • Phillip Mozingo Jun 3, 2016
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    View quoted thread

    I agree.

  • Kris Dawn Jun 3, 2016
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    View quoted thread


  • John Smith Jun 3, 2016
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    Yeah, well... If she would have reported her death, mama's checks would have stopped coming in the mail.
    Any takers on that bet?