Authorities say relatives of a deceased Tehama County woman cremated her remains on a makeshift barbecue and continued collecting her retirement checks.
Ramona Allmond's daughter and grandson were arrested Sunday on suspicion of embezzlement, elder abuse and disposing of a body without a permit, among other charges. They are being held at the Tehama County Jail in Red Bluff on $30,000 bail, with arraignment set for Thursday.
Sheriff's Capt. Paul Hosler says the 84-year-old Allmond likely had died of natural causes, though investigators are still trying to determine the cause of death.
Hosler says her daughter, 50-year-old Kathleen Allmond, and her grandson, 30-year-old Tony Ray, told investigators they left the body on her bedroom floor for a week before cremating the remains in their backyard fire pit. They then covered the pit and remains with soil and planted a tree on top, according to investigators. The family's home sits in the midst of a 10-acre olive grove, remote from neighbors.
Detectives say the daughter also fashioned a two-inch piece of her mother's skull into a necklace. Hosler said Ray took a photograph of Kathleen Allmond wearing the necklace, as well as a beaded wire tiara that she believed would ward off radio waves, to post on a social networking Web site.
"It gets really weird when you have a piece of mom's skull hanging around your neck," Hosler said. "I'm not aware of any religion that allows you to burn your family members in the backyard and collect their pension."
Investigators said they kept collecting her monthly retirement checks amounting to more than $25,000 since the elderly woman died in December.
Det. Richard Knox said they may have been trying to honor the woman's desire to die at home and be cremated.
Deputies arrested the pair after the dead woman's son asked deputies for a welfare check because he had not heard from his mother since December. Hosler said his suspicions were further aroused last week when he called and Kathleen Allmond pretended she was the 84-year-old woman.