Man lived with bodies of mom, aunt for years to collect benefits, deputies say

Deputies said two of the three people found dead inside a York County home in July had been there since as long as 2015.

Authorities said they conducted a welfare check at the home on Griggs Road near Clover on July 31 when they made the discovery of the three family members.

Deputies said they found 45-year-old Thomas Gardner dead inside the home by the front door. They said the bodies of two women were also discovered inside the house.

The women were later identified as Thomas Gardner's mother, 69-year-old Susan Gardner, and her sister, 77-year-old Ruth Allred.

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fficials said Thomas Gardner died by suicide days before the bodies were found and left a note with details about the women.

According to the note left by Thomas Gardner, his mother died in November 2015 and his aunt, Allred, died approximately six months later.

He also said in the letter that he was afraid that he would be blamed for the two women's deaths, and that was the reason he never contacted authorities.

Investigators confirmed the condition of the remains matched up with the time frame given by Thomas Gardner.

After the autopsies, Allred's cause of death was confirmed as probable atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and Susan Garner's cause of death was undetermined.

Investigators said there is no indication of foul play in the deaths of Allred or Susan Gardner, but they believe Thomas Gardner wrapped the bodies and left them in a room for years.

A relative said she was concerned about the family and had asked deputies to check on the house before. They did, but no one ever came to the door.

Deputies said they went to the house to assist Adult Protective Services four times before finding their bodies -- June 28, July 5, July 16, and July 31.

A neighbor who has lived next door for 10 years said she had only seen Thomas Gardner outside cutting grass. She said she hadn't seen the two women in years.

Investigators said this case is closed and no charges will be filed.

Detectives said they believe he didn't report the deaths to continue to collect their government benefits.

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