Son waives hearing over hiding father's body in barrel in basement

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An East Vandergrift man accused of hiding his father's body in a plastic barrel in their basement so he could keep collecting the man's checks waived a preliminary hearing today on the charges and will undergo a mental health evaluation.

David J. Thomas, 32, is charged with felony counts of identity theft and access device fraud, and abuse of a corpse, a misdemeanor. A representative from District Judge Cheryl J. Peck-Yakopec's office said the evaluation was not ordered by the judge but rather agreed upon by both the defense and prosecution.

Police said Mr. Thomas told them that he found his father dead one morning and eventually put the body inside a 55-gallon barrel, which he said he ordered with the elder Mr. Thomas' bank card. He told detectives he used the excess money, after paying bills, to buy drugs for his addiction, according to a criminal complaint.

An autopsy found the elder Mr. Thomas died of natural causes and showed no signs of trauma or foul play.

Mr. Thomas' public defender did not immediately return a message.

First Published July 1, 2014 12:00 AM

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