Prosecutors: Peshtigo woman hid mother’s corpse for months, lived off her income

Paula Bergold (PHOTO: Marinette County Sheriff's Office via WLUK)

Paula Bergold (PHOTO: Marinette County Sheriff's Office via WLUK)

MARINETTE — A 60-year-old Wisconsin woman was charged with hiding her mother’s corpse after authorities said she didn’t report the death for up to four months while living off her mom’s income.

According to charges filed Monday, Sept. 23, Paula Bergold put the body of her 89-year-old mother, Ruby, in a small plastic tub and moved it to the basement of her Peshtigo home in eastern Wisconsin, about 50 miles (80 km) north of Green Bay.

A neighbor called police because Ruby Bergold hadn’t been seen since May and Paula was “being evasive to where Ruby might be,” the complaint said.

Officers arrived at the Bergold home Sept. 19 to find a note taped to a door that said, “Ruby has gone out of town to visit some friends of ours. Paula.” While standing outside, an officer noticed the smell of decay and saw packets of mothballs at the doors.

Inside, officers found a chair covered in Borax and boxes of ammonia and bleach, but no sign of Ruby.

Paula Bergold eventually acknowledged her mother was dead, and her body was in the home. Bergold told police she found her mother dead in a chair and couldn’t bring herself to call authorities, the complaint said. After the body began to smell, she put it in the container.

She allegedly told police she’d been living off her mother’s Social Security income and investments, and said her concern about money played into her decision not to report her mother’s death.

Court records don’t list an attorney to comment on Bergold’s behalf. She appeared in court Monday via a video feed from jail.

She was charged with hiding a corpse, failing to report a death, and obstruction.

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