GILBERT, Ariz. — A badly decomposed body found in an apparently abandoned house in this Phoenix suburb may be that of a 95-year-old woman who died nearly four years ago, police said Tuesday. Investigators met Tuesday with the homeowner, who told Gilbert police the body was that of her mother who died in September 2010. The body was discovered Saturday when a real estate agent arrived at the house with a locksmith and they went to the back door to change a lock.
Janet Pallone Delatorre, 60, told police she didn’t report the death because the conditions of the house were so bad that she was afraid she would be accused of elder abuse or neglect. The name of Delatorre’s mother wasn’t immediately released. Police said they have yet to verify the information, and the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office hasn’t identified the body yet.
“If the information provided by Delatorre is determined to be factual the possibility exists she could be charged with failing to report the death,” which is a misdemeanor, Sgt. Jesse Sanger, a police spokesman, said in a statement.
The real estate agent was working as a special commissioner with Maricopa County Superior Court to arrange for the house to be sold, according to The Arizona Republic. After finding the back door ajar, the agent and locksmith entered the house, which they believed had been abandoned, and found a pet bird in a cage. The bird had been provided food and water and appeared to have been cared for, but the house was full of debris. The two called police, who found the body inside a bedroom.
Below is video from a local news station made after the initial discovery of the body: