Central Delaware
Smyrna woman charged with abusing boyfriend's corpse

SMYRNA – A 56-year-old Smyrna woman was charged with misdemeanor abusing a corpse Wednesday after she failed to report her boyfriend’s death and then hid him in a box for 10 days, police said.

Ariane J. Clark told Delaware State Police she panicked after finding her housemate dead on Jan. 6, fearing trouble for supporting an illegal alien in her unit block residence of Spruce Court in Holly Hill Estates. She had begun going through the victim’s paperwork upon finding him dead, and located an expired passport for the late German citizen, police said.

Police said homicide detectives were contacted in the afternoon of Wednesday, Jan. 16 via an anonymous tip informing them there was a dead body located at the residence. Detectives from the Homicide Unit and Criminal Investigations Unit responded to the house, where they made contact with Ms. Clark. Police said Ms. Clark told them quickly that the 60-year-old was deceased and located in a box in a rear bedroom.

Police said Ms. Clark was taken to DSP Troop 3, and an interview revealed that the victim had died on the afternoon of Jan. 6. Ms. Clark was collecting paperwork before calling authorities, police said, when the expired passport was discovered. Ms. Clark is also from Germany, police said.

Ms. Clark told police she then placed the victim in a large garbage bag before positioning him inside the wooden footlocker and sealing it with duct tape. She was released later that evening as detectives continued their investigation into this incident.

A wooden footlocker sealed with duct tape was located in the rear bedroom covered by a blanket, Master Cpl. Gary E. Fournier said. Upon locating the footlocker, detectives obtained a search warrant on the residence before the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner removed the box and its contents.

The footlocker was transported to their office in Georgetown where it was examined and determined that the contents were that of a male subject, police said. An autopsy of the remains was conducted on Jan. 17 and the cause of death has been ruled undetermined at this time. The name of the victim is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and positive identification.

Ms. Clark was arrested on Wednesday after warrants were obtained for abusing a corpse. She was arraigned at JP Court 2 in Rehoboth Beach and released on $5,000 pending a court hearing in the Kent County Court of Common Pleas.

The Homicide Unit is continuing their investigation into this incident, police said.

Staff writer Craig Anderson can be reached at 741-8296, or @DSNAnderson on Twitter.