Two suspects have been charged after allegedly driving 1,300 miles from New York to Arkansas with the body of a deceased elderly man packed inside a suitcase.
Virginia "Ginger" Lee Colvin and Michael Wayne Stivers were trying to sell furniture and other belongings out of a pickup truck in Arkansas, when someone looking at the items for sale unzipped a suitcase in the pile, only to find a corpse inside, CNN reports.
The customer called police, which led to an investigation, Prairie County Sheriff Rick Hickman said.
Using a description of the vehicle as their lead, Prairie County deputies found Colvin 15-20 miles away, near Little Rock, Arkansas, but the body was not in the truck.
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On March 5, police found the suitcase in the field of a nearby farm.
Colvin was charged with abuse of a corpse, a felony, on March 9.
Stivers is facing the same charge, but was was already being held at an Arkansas jail on unrelated charges, ArkansasOnline reported.
Colvin, 56, and Stivers, whose age has not been released, are from Johnstown, New York, but reportedly have relatives in Arkansas. The Johnstown Police Department is working with the Prairie County Sheriff's Office, The Leader-Herald reported.
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The Johnstown police have searched the home of the deceased, who may have been in his 80s or 90s. Witnesses and police have confirmed that pieces of evidence were removed from the home and taken for further investigation.
Colvin and Stivers may have been the elderly man's caregivers, ArkansasOnline reports.
A woman living in the two-family home was taken in for questioning, but was not charged.
“It’s looking like natural causes,” said Johnstown Police Lt. David Gilbo in a press conference across the street from what was suspected to be the alleged victim's home.
Gilbo said it is not being looked at as a homicide case. An autopsy showed the man had died of natural causes, CNN reports.
Gilbo said the two suspects claimed they had no plans on what to do with the body of the man, whose name has not been released.
“They said they had no idea what they were going to do with the body,” Gilbo said.
Both state and county departments are investigating why the pair may have taken the body with them. Social Security fraud and insurance fraud are reportedly possible motives, but nothing has been confirmed.
Covin and Stivers are currently being held in jail with bail set at $100,000.