GILBERT, Ariz. — After an elderly woman died in her home in 2010, her daughter told her grandson the woman would be buried in Chicago, next to her husband.
But nearly four years later, on June 28, police say they found the woman's badly decayed, mummified remains lying in a bed and clutching a blanket. A recently released Gilbert Police Department report details the grisly discovery in what police have described as a "hoarder house" full of trash in an otherwise upscale neighborhood.
In the report, Janet Pallone Delatorre told police she discovered her mother, Josephine Pallone, dead in bed one morning in September 2010.
"Janet stated she 'panicked' and believed police would think Janet killed her based on the condition of the house," the report said. "Janet assumed the police would think Janet neglected her and that is why she died."
So Delatorre told officers she simply left her mother in bed. Sgt. Jesse Sanger, a police spokesman, said the Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office still has not officially identified the remains as of Tuesday and the case is still an active death investigation.
The report nonetheless listed Josephine Pallone as a potential victim and police have been investigating the case as if the Medical Examiner's Office eventually will identify the woman as Pallone.
In a statement released in July, Janet Delatorre told police her mother would have been 95 when she died. Other reports put Pallone's age at 98.
In addition to a positive identification, police hope to learn an approximate date of death and whether there are any signs of foul play, such as broken bones or trauma to the body, he said.
Sanger said police have found no signs of fraud or other criminal activity related to the woman's death. The police report said four Social Security checks were sent to Josephine Pallone's address in June, July, August and September of 2010, and the checks were returned "for unknown reasons."
The Social Security Administration assumed Pallone had died and no more checks were sent, the report said.
Nathan Delatorre of Tempe, Janet Delatorre's son, told police he moved out of the house on Leah Lane four years ago, when he started attending Arizona State University. A short time later, he said his mother called him and told him that Josephine Pallone had died.
"Janet told Nathan that Josephine was going to be buried in Chicago with Josephine's deceased husband," the report said.
Nathan Delatorre said he never returned to the house.
William Delatorre, Janet's ex-husband, obtained a court judgment giving him control over the house after she fell behind on payments, and the property went into foreclosure. In 2011, William DelaTorre was told by Adult Protective Services that investigators went to the home and that his ex-wife told investigators her mother was OK, according to Michael Shew, DelaTorre's attorney.
On June 28, a real estate agent, acting as a court commissioner, went to the house with a locksmith to change the locks.
When they entered the house, they found a pet bird that appeared to have been well cared for. The report said police were concerned about the welfare of Janet Delatorre and searched the house, which had piles of trash and clothes stacked in the living room, the garage and other rooms.
Police found the dead woman's remains when they checked inside a bedroom. The body was lying in bed in a supine position and police said there were clear signs it had been dead for a long time.