50-year-old Geraldine Cherry, who is blind, has been arrested on murder charges after a funeral director discovered Chex Party Mix, a lotion bottle, a piece of a diaper, a candy wrapper and 10 inches of rope in the throat of her deceased elderly roommate, 70-year-old Kathleen McEwan.
McEwan was found on her back in her bed on June 10th. She was unresponsive and pronounced dead, presumably of natural causes.
The manner of death almost went unnoticed until Ms. McEwan’s body was being embalmed. It was at that point that Brian Hurst, a staffer with John J. Bryers Funeral Home in Willow Grove, noticed that her tongue was sticking out a bit.
When he attempted to push it back in because a piece of rope popped out from her throat.
He immediately called the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office to report it and texted a picture to them before they believed him. The medical examiner later found other items in the victim’s gullet.
“The thing that really gets me is, if she had been cremated, no one would have ever known,” said Hurst.
Cherry was subsequently arrested at Parker Place apartments, where the two lived, and held without bond. Her preliminary hearing is set for July 11th.
No one seems to be completely sure of the relationship between the two women, though there are reports that the two were roommates. McEwan was a special-needs resident who had been placed at the complex by the non-profit organization Resources for Human Development (RHD).
The affidavit said that a few days after the slaying, Cherry told a woman who works for RHD that she “was a bad person” and “did something.”
On Monday, police interviewed Cherry, who then allegedly admitted to shoving the items into McEwan’s throat, though she did not offer a clear motive.
It seems that RHD has placed a number of people at the Parker Place apartments over the past several months, many of whom residents claim are not well-supervised and might be better suited to mental institutions.
One resident says that RHD-placed individuals often come knocking at his door.