Mother Keeps Decomposed Body of Daughter for Social Security Checks


reno motelPolice broke into a New Jersey home on May 30th.  What they found was horrifying.  The decomposed body of 32 year old Rebecca Wilson, along with that of a dog, filled the air with an acrid odor.  Janet Wilson never reported her death, and continued to receive her social security disability checks.

Janet Wilson was located in Reno, Nevada, about a month after the body of disabled Rebecca Wilson was discovered.  She had collected a payment as recently as June 17th.

Janet Wilson returned to Ocean County on Thursday, where she is jailed on charges of aggravated manslaughter, desecrating human remains and neglect of a disabled adult, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Al Della Fave said.

Neighbors of Wilson expressed shock and disbelief.

“How could anyone do that to their daughter?” asked Linda Keegan. “She was unable to walk and needed assistance breathing. I felt sorry for her.”

Della Fave said that although the exact cause of Rebecca’s death is yet to be determined, authorities are looking at a section of the manslaughter code which includes ‘negligence of care.’

To convict Janet Wilson, the state must prove ‘extreme indifference for human life,’ and that she was ‘aware of, and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that death will result from his or her conduct.’

On May 31st, officers planned to use a search warrant and investigate the home.  The condition of the residence was so deplorable, that it was declared uninhabitable.

“I smelled something awful out there and thought something had died under my porch,” said Linda Donavan, who also lived on Fox Street. “The flies were unbelievable.”

Della Fave said Janet Wilson was found in Reno on June 16, along with her son, Scott, and her boyfriend, whose name was not released.  Wilson is the only one facing charges.

On June 20, with help from Reno police detectives, Manchester Detectives Al Vega and Craig Beaulieu, along with Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Detective Raymond Gardner, took Wilson into custody at the Vagabond Motel in Reno.

Neighbor Patricia Burghardt said she was shaken by the events.

“I knew the family for as long as they lived here and that had to be close to 10 years ago,” she said.

She told police that Wilson had recently quit her job.

“I found her to be a very sensitive mother. She told me that Rebecca had been in a nursing home at one time and that she was no longer covered by benefits. I was surprised that Janet would quit her job,” Burghardt said.

A strange case of a mother who found her daughter’s disability checks more important than her child’s well-being.  She abandoned her decomposing body, but continued to accept the social security payments.

Alfred James reporting


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