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‘The body was partially frozen’: Man allegedly failed to report wife’s death and kept her in a freezer because he was afraid, but he still collected her Social Security payments

Terrell York appears in a mugshot

Terrell York appears in a mugshot. He is charged with a drunk driving offense and for allegedly keeping his wife’s body in a freezer after she died. (Isabella County Jail)

A Michigan man kept his dead wife in a kitchen freezer at home for months after she died, authorities say.

Terrell L. York, 54, is not accused of killing his wife, Patricia M. York, 67, but he has been charged with one count of failure to report a dead body, according to Isabella County Jail records.

On Tuesday, Isabella County Sheriff’s deputies went to the York home for a well-being check on Patricia York after a call from her daughter in North Dakota. The younger woman said she was worried because she had not heard from her mother in some two years, telling law enforcement that her mom suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by MLive.

After receiving that request, deputies arrived at the York residence on Baseline Road in Deerfield Township – a tiny, mostly rural community located in the center of Michigan. Notably, there are at least five identically named civil townships throughout the Wolverine State.

When Isabella County authorities arrived and inquired as to Patricia York’s whereabouts, Terrell York is alleged to have first dissembled. Deputies say he initially told them she had moved out of their home and was living with family in Newaygo, Michigan, roughly an hour’s drive due east. The defendant allegedly declined to elaborate any further on the move, deputies reportedly wrote.

But an arrest was prompt anyway, due to an outstanding 2021 warrant for his third alleged offense of driving while under the influence.

Deputies followed up and determined the woman was not living with relatives — in Newaygo or otherwise. Her sister reportedly told law enforcement that she, too, had last spoken to Patricia York roughly two years ago, during a phone call in which the deceased woman said she was being kicked out of the family home following an argument with her husband. The sister said she tried to call back several times but could never get in touch with her, the affidavit reportedly says.

Once in custody, Terrell York apparently did his best to keep up the facade.

“His answers were erratic and he was looking all around the room throughout the interview,” the affidavit reportedly says. “He said she did not want her family to know where she was living.”

The accused man offered some threadbare details, police allege, saying his wife just up and left in their SUV one day after packing up her clothes, returning only once to bring back the family car. He allegedly told law enforcement that he had last seen his wife sometime in March.

Next, deputies reportedly wrote in the court document, they contacted the Yorks’ landlord.

The property owner said Patricia York had been the primary payer, in cash, until about a year-and-a-half ago when she told him she had cancer. Terrell York paid the rent for the house after that.

“[H]e asked Terrell every month how Patricia was doing with her cancer,” deputies wrote, referring to landlord Phil Bock. “He would say she was getting treatment or something like that.”

Eventually, after being denied permission to search the property, deputies applied for and received a search warrant.

Terrell York had apparently been living in a state of squalor and denial.

“There was no power to the home, it was filthy, smelled and had animal feces throughout the floors,” the affidavit reportedly says. “The body was partially frozen and appeared to have been inside [the chest freezer] for quite a length of time, wrapped in a blanket.”

In comments to Flint-based ABC affiliate WJRT, Bock mused about the gruesome discovery on the land he owns.

“We watch a lot of shows on ID (network), but we never thought we would see it in own backyard,” he said. “I should have went up there and checked on her myself. Nice lady, you can’t find nicer ladies than Pat.”

According to The Mercury News, the defendant told police his wife died in early September 2022 of natural causes. He allegedly said he was afraid to tell authorities when she died because she had been so sick, according to court records. He also allegedly admitted to cashing his wife’s Social Security checks after her death in order to pay for food and bills.

Patricia York’s autopsy results are pending.

Terrell York is currently being detained in the Isabella County Jail on a combined $10,000 bond for both charges.

His next court appearance is slated for April 27.

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