Police say brothers stored dead mom, received Social Security checks

BEREA, Ohio (AP) - Two brothers hid their mother's body for nine months, first in a garage and later in a rented storage locker, keeping her death a secret, police said.
One is charged with keeping her ongoing Social Security checks. Brett Burton, 34, told Berea police that he and his brother, Christian Burton, 39, had been cashing their mother's government checks since she died.
Brett Burton was sent to Southwest General Health Center Thursday after he tried to kill himself in his jail cell early in the morning, Berea Detective Chuck Gute said. A hospital spokeswoman said he was in intensive care.
The decomposed body of Diane Burton, 62, was found Tuesday at Public Storage in Cleveland.
Brett Burton told police his mother died of natural causes at the home she rented in Cleveland. He said he stored her body in the home's garage until about three weeks ago, then moved it to the rental storage facility.
"They put all their stuff in storage, including mom, and were living in a hotel," said Berea Detective Chuck Gute.
Brett Burton is charged with forgery, theft, disorderly conduct, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia and having an open container of beer.
Christian Burton, although jailed, has not been charged.
The Cuyahoga County coroner's attempt to determine the cause of death is complicated by the condition of the body.
Brett Burton told police that he and his brother were living at the Kings Inn in Strongsville. Police arrested Christian Burton at the hotel and discovered he was wanted in Utah for parole violation stemming from a drunken-driving charge.
"Both of them are basically transient and homeless," said Gute. "Brett admitted that part of the reason for not reporting his mother's death was that he needed a little money to get back on his feet."
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)