PORTLAND — A human skull and other remains uncovered at an Oregon trailer park last month belonged to an elderly man who died three years ago and were buried by an unemployed son who wanted to continue living off his father's Social Security payments, the authorities said.
Corey T. Starks, 38, was arrested last week in Cass County, Minn., on a warrant for felony abuse of a corpse, said Chief Marvin Combs of the Port Orford Police Department. Starks is due to appear before U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman in Portland on Wednesday.
The remains of Starks' father, Charles Starks, were found at the Anchor Inn RV Park in Port Orford, a small community on the Southern Oregon coast. The father lived there in 2009 and 2010, Combs said.
According to court paperwork, Starks told police that his 71-year-old father died after a seizure on March 1, 2010, and he buried the body in a shallow grave near their trailer. The documents state that Starks confessed to the crime, and that video and bank records showed he received about $50,000 from his father's Social Security checks, deposited in a joint account.
Two medical examiners are investigating the remains to determine if the death was from natural causes.
U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall, in a government motion to keep Starks detained as a flight risk, said Starks has not had a job since 2007. Though Starks has no criminal history, Marshall said acquaintances described him as "paranoid," "unstable" and "scary."
"One witness advised that she believes the father's death was not an accident and that the defendant killed his father," the document states.
It's unclear if Starks has an attorney. A federal public defender in Minnesota represented him at last week's hearing regarding his detention status.
A judge initially said Starks could be placed on electronic monitoring until a May court date in Oregon. He revoked that order at Marshall's request.
Combs said the father and son moved to Oregon from Minnesota, but he's not sure when. In explaining how no neighbors were suspicious of the father's sudden disappearance, the chief said there are about 15 spaces at the trailer park and some of them were vacant.
"And a lot of people just don't pay attention," he said.
The skull was discovered when the park's new owners moved the trailer while cleaning.