Kansas couple, Lynn and Kirk Ritter, both aged 61, has been charged with orchestrating a fraudulent scheme, allegedly cashing in over $216,000 in retirement benefits belonging to Michael Carroll, a deceased relative whose body they concealed in their home for more than six years.
According to federal prosecutors, Carroll, a retired telecommunications employee, began receiving retirement benefits in 2008, continuing until November 2022.
However, authorities contend that Carroll’s pacemaker data reveals he passed away in 2016 at the age of 81.
The police in Overland Park, a suburb of the Kansas City metropolitan area, only discovered Carroll’s mummified body in 2022 after his son-in-law, Kirk Ritter, reported the death.
The indictment obtained by USA TODAY alleges that Lynn and Kirk Ritter concealed Carroll’s death to illicitly receive payments from his pension and the Social Security Administration, ensuring continued access to Carroll’s bank account.
The charges against the couple include one count of wire fraud and two counts of theft of government funds. If convicted, they could face severe penalties. Lynn and Kirk Ritter are scheduled to appear in federal court on February 2.
Living with Carroll since the 1990s, the Ritters, financially dependent on him, continued using his home as their official residence after his death.
Despite his passing, the couple neglected to report the death to authorities, and Carroll’s monthly benefits and pension continued to be deposited into his bank account.
Unauthorized Checks, Diverted Funds, 6-Year Deception
Prosecutors allege that the Ritters deposited unauthorized checks from Carroll’s account, written to both of them.
Additionally, they purportedly transferred funds without authorization, diverting them into their personal bank accounts for personal gain.
Neither Lynn nor Kirk Ritter were entitled to receive Carroll’s benefits, as stated in the indictment.
The illicit scheme, spanning six years post-Carroll’s death, resulted in a total of $216,067 in pension and Social Security payments.
The alarming revelation came to light on October 23, 2022, when Kirk Ritter reported Carroll’s death to the Overland Park Police Department.
Law enforcement arrived at the residence to discover Carroll’s body in a mummified state, and it was later determined that he had passed away around July 1, 2016.
Family members disclosed that the Ritters consistently offered excuses for Carroll’s unavailability, leading them to believe he was still alive.
Janet Carroll, Carroll’s niece, revealed, “We were denied contact with him, and now we know why.”
While initially investigated as a suspicious death, the county medical examiner ultimately determined that Carroll died of natural causes, concluding a perplexing and unsettling chapter in this extraordinary case.