An upstate New York man strangled his mother in a motel room, where he and his wife lived with the body for seven weeks before dumping it in a wooded area in South Carolina, state police said Saturday.
State troopers went to the Pleasant Valley Motel on Oct. 6 to check on 76-year-old Betty Cole after family members expressed concern about her well-being. Cole had been living at the motel, but wasn't there when troopers arrived, according to police.
A subsequent investigation revealed that Cole's son, Charles, 48, and his wife, Ronalda, 40, had been sharing the motel room with her.
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Betty Cole's body was found in a secluded wooded area near Interstate 95 in the town of Lodge, South Carolina, on Oct. 17, police said. Investigators determined that Charles Cole had strangled his mother and, weeks later, drove the body to South Carolina.
“I find it hard to imagine circumstances that could lead to a son strangling his mother, but to also live with her body in a motel room for seven weeks, and to then travel several states away to dump her body like trash makes this a particularly disturbing and unusual case,” said state police Capt. John J. Ryan.
Investigators found Charles Cole at a homeless service provider in Poughkeepsie on Friday and charged him with second-degree murder. He was being held in Dutchess County Jail without bail.
Ronalda Cole was arrested Oct. 18 and charged with a felony count of tampering with physical evidence for allegedly helping her husband dump the body. She was jailed in lieu of $10,000 cash bail.
There was no information as to whether the Coles had obtained lawyers who could comment on the charges.
A man who answered the phone at the Pleasant Valley Motel on Saturday denied there was a body there for seven weeks, saying guests would have complained about the smell. He said police made the story up.
The motel, where rooms start at $65 per night, is located on a rural thoroughfare 7 miles from the center of Poughkeepsie.