Homeowner: Decomposed body is mother, died 2010

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

GILBERT, Ariz. -- The woman who owns the home where a badly decomposed body was found Saturday told police the deceased person is her mother.

Janet Pallone DeLaTorre, 60, said her mother died in September of 2010.

"It wasn't bones, but it was almost, it's hard to describe, but almost a petrified or mummified state," says Sgt. Jesse Sanger with the Gilbert Police Dept. "The skin was still there, but no bones."

DeLaTorre told investigators she did not report the death because the conditions of the house were so bad she was afraid she would be accused of elder abuse or neglect. 

According to DeLaTorre's statements, her mother was 95 years old at the time of her death.

Wednesday DeLaTorre's ex-husband William DeLaTorre released a statement through his attorney saying in part, "Since the parties divorced Mr. DeLaTorre was concerned about the well-being of Janet's mother. Several yaers ago Mr. DeLaTorre contacted Adult Protective Services to express his concerns about her well-being."

The statement goes on to say that Mr. DeLaTorre believed APS contaced Janet and she assured them her mother was in good condition.

3TV contacted Adult Protective Services to request information about that complaint and what if anything ever happened with it but our Reporter's request for information was denied. The department cited confidentiality issues.

Police have not verified the information provided by Delatorre and the medical examiner has not identified the body. 

"That's just what she's telling our investigators," said Sgt. Sanger. "We don't know who that is right now, still trying to get the body identified."

If DeLaTorre is telling police the truth, she could be charged with failing to report a death.

The home is in the 500 block of East Leah Lane. That is near Baseline and Gilbert roads.

A legal dispute over the sale of the house led a court-appointed Realtor to go inside the home over the weekend to determine its value.

"We noticed an odor when we walked in, but truthfully we did not think foul play or anything else," says Danette Earnestt of Keller Williams. "We just went back to report the findings."

Neighbors say they're shocked by the discovery. "A lot of us have block parties; we know a lot of our neighbors," says nearby resident Chris Hales. "But unfortunately, perhaps somebody didn't know this lady."

This case remains an active ongoing investigation.


Body in home may be that of woman who died in 2010

GILBERT, Ariz. (AP) -- A badly decomposed body found in an apparently abandoned house in this Phoenix suburb may be that of a 95-year-old woman who died nearly four years ago, police said Tuesday.

Investigators met Tuesday with the homeowner, who told Gilbert police the body was that of her mother who died in September 2010.

Janet Pallone Delatorre, 60, told police she didn't report the death because the conditions of the Gilbert house were so bad that she was afraid she would be accused of elder abuse or neglect.

The name of Delatorre's mother wasn't immediately released. Police said they have yet to verify the information, and the Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office hasn't identified the body yet.

"If the information provided by Delatorre is determined to be factual the possibility exists she could be charged with failing to report the death," which is a misdemeanor, Sgt. Jesse Sanger, a police spokesman, said in a statement.

The body was discovered Saturday when a locksmith and a real estate agent arrived at the house and went to the back door to change a lock.

The agent was working as a special commissioner with Maricopa County Superior Court to arrange for the house to be sold.

After finding the door ajar, they entered the house, which they believed had been abandoned, and found a pet bird in a cage.

The bird had been provided food and water and appeared to have been cared for, but the house was full of debris.

The two called police, who arrived at the house and found the body inside a bedroom.

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