WILMINGTON, North Carolina - As a woman accused of hiding her elderly mother's corpse for seven months had her first court appearance Thursday, a law officer said the dead woman's family had continued to collect her government pension checks after she died.
Amy Stewart, 47, asked for a court-appointed defence attorney when she appeared before a district court judge in Wilmington.
She was charged Wednesday with concealing a dead body, which is a felony in the United States.
New Hanover County sheriff's deputy Charles Smith said Blanche Matilda Roth's family had continued to collect her Social Security payments after her death and authorities are investigating.
Police responded to the family's home Tuesday after receiving a call and found the body of the 87-year-old Roth in a bedroom.
In the recording of the phone call made to police, an unidentified male caller told an operator, "We have an ... elderly lady in the house who has died and we need her taken to the morgue."
When asked how long ago the woman had passed away, the caller replied, "I don't know, I'm going to say a month."
The caller confirmed that the woman had died a month ago and was still in the house.
"She just died in the bed. She's been bedridden for a number of days, or weeks," the caller explained.
The recording was released Thursday by the New Hanover County Public Safety Communications Centre.
Police estimate that Roth, who was Stewart's mother, died in May, before her 88th birthday in September. .
Neighbours were shocked Wednesday to hear of Roth's death.
Stewart declined to comment on the charges and did not enter a plea during her court appearance.
She posted bond and was released from jail.
The sheriff's office anticipates filing additional charges related to fraud, said Smith.