Wisconsin woman accused of hiding mom's corpse to cash checks

Paula Ann Bergold had told a neighbor and the police that her mom had gone out of town — but the woman was really dead, and stored in the basement, authorities said.

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By David K. Li

A Wisconsin woman hid her mom's body for weeks after she died so she could keep cashing the dead woman's social security and pension checks, officials said.

Paula Ann Bergold, 60, a resident of Marinette, Wisconsin, has been charged with three criminal counts — failure to report a death, hiding a corpse and obstructing an officer, according to a complaint filed by Marinette County Assistant District Attorney Tessa Button.

Paula Bergold.Marinette County Sheriff's Office via AP

For weeks, a neighbor of 89-year-old Rudy Bergold was concerned she hadn't seen her elderly friend and asked Marinette County Sheriff's deputies to perform a welfare check, according to prosecutors.

Deputies made at least two visits to Bergold's home, on Sept. 12 and 13, and no one answered the door, officials said.

On the Sept. 13 visit, deputies found handwritten notes were left around the property, "Ruby has gone out of town to visit some friends of ours" — signed by Paula Bergold, who lives nearby, officials said.

Then finally last week, Paula Bergold allegedly told investigators that her mom had died in a chair inside her house that's about 50 miles north of Green Bay.

"Paula said she wanted to call police when she found Ruby, but just couldn't bring herself to do it. She kept thinking she would call tomorrow but never did," according to the complaint.

The daughter eventually moved her mom's body into a tub and stashed it in the basement, hoping that Borax, a cleaning agent, and mothballs could kill the smell.

"Paula said that she has been living off of her mother's income, which was social security, stocks, and dividends from her father's retirement," according to the criminal complaint, which did not list the amount of money involved. "Paula said that she was concerned about the money and that played into her decision not to report her mother's death."

The criminal complaint did not specify the exact date of Rudy Bergold's death but said the offense of "hiding a corpse" took place between Aug. 1 and Sept. 18.

Bergold is being held on $10,000 bail and hadn't yet hired a lawyer, according to jail records. Her next court date is Oct. 7.