Local News

Body found in Wayne County prompts death investigation

Posted February 6, 2018 11:15 a.m. EST
Updated February 7, 2018 5:14 p.m. EST

— The Wayne County Sheriff's Office is working to identify the cause of death of a woman whose corpse was left in her mobile home for “a period of time.”

Authorities have questioned the adult son of Joyce Eileen Law, whose body was found last week by law enforcement authorities during a welfare check at the home, in the 900 block of McArthur Pond Road. She was 72-years-old when she died, authorities said.

Bonnie Cooley, a friend of the family told WRAL News Tuesday that Joyce Law's body had been in the home since Jan. 2, 2017, along with the remains of a pet dog that died last October. The friend said the woman's son told her he was unable to part with his mother's body.

"Sometimes people get attached in a very unhealthy way," Cooley said. "He knew his mother was dead but he said he couldn't let them physically come and take her body away. He couldn't let go of that part."

Investigators said Tuesday they are waiting for autopsy results to determine how the woman died, said sheriff's Maj. Richard Lewis, a spokesman for the Wayne County sheriff. Authorities said there is no indication, so far, of foul play. The son was taken into custody for a mental health evaluation but later released, the friend said.

The mobile home where the woman lived is in a largely rural area of the county. The home contained large garbage bags of trash, and there was feces all over the residence, according to witnesses at the scene. A notice that the mobile home has been condemned now hangs on the front door.

Authorities said the woman's body was found in a bedroom.

No charges or arrests have been made in the case. However, the sheriff's spokesman said investigators are looking into an allegation of Social Security fraud involving the woman's son.

The daughter of the landlord said she called the sheriff's office last spring to request a welfare check on Joyce Law after she stopped seeing the woman, and her signature on the rent check looked different.

The landlord's daughter said she called deputies again in November, but the sheriff's office was unable to make contact until last Thursday, which is when a deputy discovered the body inside this house.