Reporting Nick Janes
VALLEJO (CBS13) – Neighbors complained about the smell, and deputies would make the disturbing discovery of a body in the backyard.
It wasn’t just any body. It was a family member’s dad, and it had been decomposing for two years.
Now, two people are facing charges after investigators say a couple hid the corpse to collect cash.
By sheer coincidence there is a cemetery across the street from where the man’s remains were discovered. They were not in a grave, but in what investigators describe as a makeshift box. Detectives say the man’s own son is put him there, and he is accused of trying to hide his father’s death for two years.
When what was left of Richard Romer was discovered earlier this month, it was clear to deputies that he’d been dead for some time.
“My sister had walked over (to the area of where the body was found) and she was like ‘wow.’ She could smell it from that far off,” neighbor Matt Kernan said.
In a shocking revelation, Solano County detectives now say Richard’s son Joseph concealed his dad’s death for money. They believe he and his then-girlfriend Sandeep Waloo schemed to collect Richard’s government and private pensions. Investigators say they got away with it for two years.
“That’s pretty bad man,” neighbor Matt Montgomery. “I can’t believe someone would even think about doing that.”
Deputies say the couple went to great lengths to hide the death. Joseph allegedly carried his decomposing dad around in a box all that time. Eventually he stashed him outside a relative’s house in Vallejo. Neighbors tell CBS13 that the box was found along the side of the house.
Neighbors say they noticed the smell in early December and called the cops; but it isn’t clear exactly how long the remains were hidden at that location.
“I haven’t seen much of them since it’s happened,” Kernan said.
It turns out Richard was very sick prior to his death, but his cause of death is still undetermined. Investigators still aren’t sure if he died of natural causes.
The suspects were booked on suspicion of grand theft, elder abuse, and improperly moving a deceased person. They were released pending formal charges.
CBS13 reached out to the family, but no one wanted to speak with us.