Investigators believe an elderly woman, whose partly decomposed body was found in a North Carson home more than three weeks after her death, may have been the victim of neglect.
The body of Iris Barton, 79, was discovered Thursday night at 4722 Blackrock Court by probation officers who noticed a smell in the house.
Police said her caretaker, 33-year-old Kelly Sue Hein, lived in the home for more than three weeks after Barton's death.
"It was a mess," said Chief Deputy Scott Burau. "It was purely neglectful and purely driven by Hein's own greed."
Barton's body was found in a bed in an upstairs bedroom.
Burau said Hein had moved into the home to care for the elderly woman but alleged she had been embezzling from her. During questioning, Hein allegedly admitted writing checks and making withdrawals from the woman's account as well as forging checks from an account set up by the woman's deceased husband, a report said.
Hein estimated the total theft at $2,700, Detective Steve Johnson reported.
Reports said that Hein admitted harboring Barton's body because she "had been in fear of being blamed for the death." She told Johnson that Barton died of natural causes on June 27, according to the report.
An autopsy will be performed by the Washoe County sheriff's coroner to determine the cause of death. The investigation is being treated as a homicide, pending verification that Barton died of natural causes, Burau said.
"We are treating it as a homicide," Burau said. "That's how we have to treat it at this point."
Evidence was gathered Thursday night and the department plans a full review of Barton's finances.
Hein was booked on suspicion of grand larceny, forgery and elder abuse with substantial bodily harm, with bail set at $20,000. When she appeared in front of Justice of the Peace John Tatro on Friday morning, her bail was raised to $100,000 and a preliminary examination of the criminal evidence was set for Aug. 4 in his courtroom.
"This is a bizarre situation," Burau said. "It's like something you see on TV.
"I'm sure that the charges will be amended at some point. People from the state and the coroner's office will look into it before we decide any new charges."
Nevada law will be reviewed for the possibility of charging Hein for failure to report a death, Burau added.
The elder abuse charge stems from unsanitary conditions in the home, including a plugged-up toilet.
Johnson wrote that "Hein had failed to keep a sanitary environment for the elderly decedent. I further observed the toilet was not functioning and human feces was present on the seat and a special chair attached to the toilet seat."
Probation officers were looking for a man who had been known to stay with Hein.