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Police believe decomposing body found in Belle home to be a woman, son arrested for stealing her social security

BELLE, W.Va. — A sheriff’s department process server and Belle police heading to a Kanawha County residence to serve an eviction notice end up finding a man and his dead mother’s body inside. Investigators learned that the man found hiding inside the home had been claiming social security benefits that belonged to his mother.

Michael Robert Johnson, 41, of Belle, has been charged with obtaining money by false pretenses.

The Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department said they noticed some suspicions about the home in the 400 block of Fifth Street when they arrived to serve the notice.

Belle police went inside the house and found the decomposing body. A search warrant was then obtained by sheriff’s deputies.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Kanawha County Magistrate Court, the woman’s body found in the residence “appeared to have been deceased for a long time and was badly decomposed.”

After discovering the body, law enforcement found Johnson hiding in a closet. Authorities said they detained him and then interviewed him.

Johnson told deputies he had been living with his mother for about two or three years and he had wrongfully claimed between $5,000 to $6,000 in benefits that were meant for her.

Court records said Johnson’s mother had died at the home in December 2022. The body has been obtained by the West Virginia State Medical Examiner’s Office.

Johnson is currently being held at the South Central Regional Jail.

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