Man arrested for taking mother’s Social Security benefits; body found while serving eviction notice

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. — Investigators serving an eviction notice reportedly found a body inside a house in Belle, West Virginia, on Thursday.

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In a news release, Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office said its Legal Process Division, along with Belle Police Department officers, went to a house to serve an eviction notice due to “suspicious signs coming from inside of the home.” It appeared that no one was home. The eviction notice was for Peggy Johnson.

Belle Police Department officers made their way into the house and found a body that was decomposing, the sheriff’s office said. They soon after got out of the house and called for assistance.

The body was so badly decomposed that investigators could not figure out what the gender was, according to WSAZ.

Investigators say the body was sent for an autopsy at the West Virginia State Medical Exmainer’s Office.

Once investigators got a search warrant for the house, they went inside and found a man hiding in the closet. He was later identified by the sheriff’s office as Michael Robert Johnson, 41.

Johnson was detained and reportedly told investigators that he was living with his mother, Peggy Johnson, according to the sheriff’s office. He said he had been living with her for about two to three years. He then said that she died in December 2022 in their house.

Peggy Johnson had been receiving Social Security benefits, which were about $1,000 per month, the sheriff’s office said. Johnson told investigators that he continued to get her benefits and used them after she died with the amount being about five to six thousand dollars.

Johnson has been charged with obtaining money, property, and services by false pretenses, and disposing of property to defraud creditors, according to WSAZ.

The sheriff’s office said Johnson is considered a person of interest in the death investigation.

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