NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A man was facing charges Thursday after his grandmother was discovered dead and wrapped in plastic in their Ridgewood, Queens home.
As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, police said Christopher Fuhrer, 30, kept his grandmother’s corpse in the home for five months because he was afraid of losing his housing.
Neighbors said Erika Kraus-Breslin, 85, was in poor health for years while she shared her tidy Ridgewood home with her adult grandson.
“I used to see her when she was healthy once in a while, and then I stop seeing her,” said neighbor Tony Guzzardo.
Police said the woman’s daughter, who lives out of state, called them saying she lost contact with Kraus-Breslin five months ago.
On Wednesday afternoon, police said they were met at door of the 65th Street home by Fuhrer.
Together, Fuhrer and the officers went to an upstairs bedroom where the decomposing body was wrapped in 16 layers of plastic bags, police said. Air fresheners littered the room, and a fan was also set up in an effort to mask the smell, police said.
“It’s heartbreaking, honestly,” said neighbor Lizbeth Gomez. “I feel so bad. I wish we knew what was going on and maybe we could’ve helped in any kind of way.”
“It’s horrible, horrible” said neighbor Anita Zale. “They said it’s probably because he wanted to collect the benefits and that’s why he kept her.”
Kraus-Breslin moved to Queens from Germany decades ago and for a while worked at Rudy’s Pastry Shop a few blocks from her house.
Fuhrer is charged with not reporting a death and with improper burial.
Police said additional charges may be brought after the autopsy’s done.
According to police sources, Fuhrer told investigators his grandmother died and he became worried he would lose his place to live and become homeless.
Police are not saying whether the woman’s most recent benefits checks were cashed or if any money is missing, Carlin reported.
The case has some of the neighbors on the block vowing to do a better job of checking in on their elderly neighbors.
The New York City Medical Examiner’s office will determine how Kraus-Breslin died.
The investigation is ongoing.
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