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Since You Asked: Man will face charges

What happened to the man arrested for keeping his roommate's body in the freezer? I heard it was because he wanted the guy's pension. I thought he should have had the money.

— Bobby L., Ashland

Paul Mahanna's trial on felony counts of abusing a corpse and identity theft is set for June 6.

Mahanna, 59, spent two weeks in the Jackson County Jail following his Jan. 31 arrest. A construction crew — called that day to repair damage caused by frozen water pipes — found a body inside a chest freezer at Mahanna's home in the 1700 block of Medford's Fiona Lane. Mahanna lived in the house for about two years with 77-year-old William Blakely Richardson before Richardson succumbed to an aggressive form of bladder cancer in January 2006, police said.

Mahanna, police said, had kept Richardson's body frozen for about a year, hiding the older man's death so he could collect the pension Richardson earned as a school librarian in California. Prosecutors allege Mahanna committed identity theft when he made a claim under Richardson's homeowner's policy to repair damage caused by the frozen pipes.

Richardson's body showed almost no signs of decomposition when medical examiners freed it from bags and five layers of duct tape. The corpse's preservation, said Oregon State Deputy Medical Examiner James Olson, was carefully and meticulously done.

Mahanna is free on his own recognizance pending appearance at his one-day jury trial in Jackson County Circuit Court.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.