Daughters of Dead Dover Woman Surrender to Police - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Reported by Laura Mazzeo

Daughters of Dead Dover Woman Surrender to Police

Both sisters are charged with abusing a corpse and third-degree conspiracy. Both sisters are charged with abusing a corpse and third-degree conspiracy.
Photo of Mary Haas, whose body was found Monday stuffed inside a plastic box inside the upstairs bedroom of her Jefferson Court home in Dover. Photo of Mary Haas, whose body was found Monday stuffed inside a plastic box inside the upstairs bedroom of her Jefferson Court home in Dover.
The Jefferson Court townhouse in which the body of Mary Haas was found has since been condemned by the city of Dover. (Photo: WBOC) The Jefferson Court townhouse in which the body of Mary Haas was found has since been condemned by the city of Dover. (Photo: WBOC)

07/10/2006 11:49 PM ET; Updated 07/12/2006 9:13 PM ET

DOVER- Two sisters turned themselves in Tuesday after police charged them with abusing their 84-year-old mother's corpse. The body was found Monday stuffed in a box inside her Dover home that was condemned after being overrun with 110 cats and three dogs, police said.

Dover police say the two sisters, 48-year-old Pamela Haas and 43-year-old Candy Haas, surrendered to police at 4 p.m. and admitted that the decomposed remains discovered in a townhouse in Jefferson Court in Dover were that of their mother, Mary Haas. Police say the sisters called police from another state and an officer convinced them to turn themselves in.   

While police say the two women called them from another state, they will not say exactly from where. It took a detective to convince them over the phone to turn themselves in.  Police do not know if the two were on the run.  When they came to court Wednesday, they were accompanied by a neighbor and a pastor at a local church.

The sisters were were released on bond after police charged them with abusing a corpse, third-degree conspiracy and cruelty to animals.

According to court records, Mary Haas' body was found in a large blue plastic container in a bedroom closet. Also, according to court records, the body appears to have been in the container for about a year.

Police say they were first called to the home on Jefferson Court on Friday to remove about 110 cats and three dogs from unsanitary conditions. Police and animal control officers began removing the cats on Friday and returned on Monday to finish up the job. They say upon their return to the home, they found Mary Haas' decomposed body in a box in an upstairs bedroom. Several bodies of dead cats were also found in similar containers.

"I think that with the investigators locating the body inside, I think there was shock for the investigators there. They were not really ready for it at this time," said Capt. Lester Boney of the Dover Police Department.

The home has since been condemned by the city of Dover and the county health department because of unhealthy air quality and unsanitary conditions. Investigators had to use oxygen tanks to breathe inside the home. They say all the cats still alive had to be euthenized as they were diseased and living in their own filth.

Police were first called to the home after neighbors complained about the pungent smell of animal feces. But even neighbors were shocked by the number of cats found there and of course, the body. Neighbor Don Merchant said he had not seen Mary Hass out of her home in a long while.

"It's been like probably a little over a year since the last time I actually saw her outside or anything," Merchant said. "She'd at least go out now and then with a friend or maybe with the daughters somewhere."

Neighbor Susan Lorntzen said Mary Haas was a lovely woman, and she also had seen her in about a year. Lorntzen said she had asked one of the daughters about her a few months ago.

"I asked Pam about her mom, how she was doing and she would say, 'She's all right, she's not feeling very well today,' so I said, 'Tell her hello for me,'" Lorntzen said. 

An autopsy report is not yet complete, according to police. But so far, they say there are no signs of trauma or foul play.  Police say Haas had a hip injury and are hoping that may be a match. They have yet to positively identify the remains as that of Mary Haas. 

Police say the two sisters could face more charges. They are looking into the possibility that the daughters- who also lived in the home- were getting Social Security checks in their mother's name. Police are also waiting for the results of the autopsy before leveling any new charges.

Meantime, now that the house they lived in is condemned, the sisters have had no choice but to stay in a nearby shelter.

The case remains under investigation.

 

 

 

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