JOHNSTOWN, N.Y. (WTEN) — Two upstate New York woman are accused of covering up the death of a roommate, moving the woman’s body before parties so guests wouldn’t see the corpse, police say.
The Johnstown Police Department said they arrested 43-year-old Stephanie Hillburn last Wednesday in connection with an investigation into an overdose in February. She’s been charged with felony concealment of a human corpse, punishable by up to 4 years in prison.
Police said that an alleged accomplice, Deborah Elgin, who is currently in state prison, will likely face a similar charge.
On Valentine’s Day of 2021, police received an anonymous call for a welfare check on Patricia Barter, 62. Officers went to the home to speak with several people, including two of Barter’s roommates, Hillburn and Deborah Eglin. Police said the two became nervous when they asked to speak with Barter.
Police say Hillburn and Eglin directed them to Barter’s bedroom, where they found her corpse lying on her bed. She “appeared to have been deceased for some time,” according to investigators.
Detectives said their investigation determined that Barter likely suffered a lethal overdose during the week of February 6. With Elgin’s help, Hillburn allegedly moved the body to the bedroom before social gatherings “in an attempt to conceal Barter’s corpse from being discovered by guests.”
Police said they kept living under the same roof with Barter’s corpse, even hosting several parties and gatherings there during the following week. The roommates never contacted authorities because they feared an investigation would uncover other illegal activity, according to police.
Warrants were issued for both, and the Johnstown Police Department found out that Eglin was already incarcerated in state prison on unrelated charges. Police said Hillburn, who avoided them, will be arraigned after authorities coordinate with the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.
Ultimately, Hillburn was nabbed by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office just after midnight on Wednesday of last week. Deputies said they arrested Hillburn and two other people during a traffic stop in Amsterdam, New York. Hillburn was charged with criminal possession of a hypodermic instrument and released to Johnstown authorities to be processed on the open warrant.
Johnstown Police Chief David Gilbo said authorities are grateful that someone who visited the home notified authorities that there was a body there. Gilbo said that they suspected that Elgin and Hillburn may have made purchases using Barter’s Social Security debit card, but could not corroborate with any physical evidence.
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