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Undertakers find rope, wrapper stuffed in dead woman's throat

PHILADELPHIA -- A Roxborough woman is charged with murder after a Willow Grove funeral home made a disturbing discovery while embalming the body of a 70-year-old woman with special needs who appeared to have died of natural causes.

After Kathleen Mcewan died inside her apartment at a group home on the 300 block of Parker Avenue on June 10, her body was sent to the John J. Byers Funeral Home on Easton Road. While funeral workers prepared Mcewan’s body the next day they found up to 10 inches of rope and a candy wrapper stuffed in her throat, according to a report on

"When I went to move it or take it out, it had enough resistance that I stopped right away and realized that it was something that shouldn't be in there," funeral worker Ryan Hurt told NBC10's Monique Braxton.

See the original report at Philadelphia's

"I've done this for 20 some years, on thousands of people, and obviously I knew right away this didn't appear to be a natural cause of death," funeral director Jeff Thompson told "We called the medical examiner."

The rope Thompson found is comparable to the drawstring of a hooded sweatshirt or sweatpants, police told NBC10.

Detectives confirmed to NBC10 that a rope up to 10 inches long and a candy wrapper were found in Mcewan's throat. Mcewan's special needs and the fact that she had no family required her to get around-the-clock care, cops said.

On Wednesday, officers arrested Geraldine Cherry, who lives in the Parker Place Apartments, Philadelphia Police tell NBC10.

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Cherry, 50, was arraigned Wednesday on murder and weapons charges, according to court papers.

She is set to have a preliminary hearing next month.

The relationship between Mcewan and Cherry isn’t clear nor is it clear if they lived in the same unit at Parker Place. Philadelphia Police didn't tell NBC10 if they have a motive for the alleged crime.

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