Published on June 25th, 2013 | by Daniel Perlman0
Woman in body dumping case now faces open murder charge
An Oregon woman entered court Wednesday for a trial on a misdemeanor body dumping charge that would have resulted in about a year of jail time if convicted. She left with new charges that could carry life in prison.
Forty-nine-year-old Kelly Rhodes’ charges were amended Wednesday in front of St. Clair County District Court Judge John Monaghan to include not only a misdemeanor charge of moving a dead body without a medical examiner’s permission, but also felony charges of open murder and vulnerable adult abuse in the second degree.
Rhodes had been arrested in March, eight days after her 89-year-old mother, Mary Gertrude Grenia, was found dead outside Goodwill Industries in Port Huron Township.
The ongoing investigation into Grenia’s death takes place during national Elder Abuse Awareness Month.
Laura Newsome, executive director for St. Clair County Council on Aging, said elder abuse is not new to the senior community.
“It has always been an issue,” she said. “I think it is now, however, more in the spotlight because we have made great strides in making laws that will protect seniors from all sorts of abuse.
“It is now easier to report.”
Newsome said elder abuse ranges from physical and emotional abuse to financial exploitation.
Kelsey Wade, a detective for the St. Clair County Sheriff Department, said, in some cases, elder abuse is not intentional.
“It gets to the point where people don’t have the financial means or know how of how to give their parents care,” Wade said.
But, she said, resources are available for people in need of advice or help.
Wade said people could approach community agencies such as Blue Water Safe Horizons or the Council on Aging for advice or resources.
“There are lots of alternatives for people to get the help they need before they get to the point where they are abusing a vulnerable senior,” Newsome said.
Grenia’s body was found by a worker at Goodwill on March 12. The body was covered with a blanket inside a fenced-in area used to store recyclable materials.
During Wednesday’s arraignment, Monaghan said the incident took place on or around March 9.
Rhodes was arrested about eight days later in Belleville, Ill., and extradited to St. Clair County.
Sharon Parrish – the defense attorney who on Wednesday replaced Rhodes’ original attorney Thomas Sarrine – said Rhodes was passing through from Oregon to Canada and was returning to a former home at the time of her arrest.
“She did not flee the jurisdiction,” Parrish said, adding Rhodes had no previous criminal record.
St. Clair County Senior Prosecuting Attorney Mona Armstrong said the decision was made to pursue open murder charges after the prosecutor’s office received Grenia’s autopsy Tuesday.
Armstrong would not comment on the results of the autopsy.
St. Clair County Prosecutor Michael Wendling said a charge of open murder can include anything from manslaughter up to first degree felony murder.
Rhodes is being held without bond. Her preliminary examination is scheduled for June 25.
Source: thetimesherald.com “Woman in body dumping case now faces open murder charge,” June 25, 2013.