The badly decomposed body of an elderly guest was found last week in a room at a Pennsylvania bed and breakfast, and investigators in the case said that the woman had been dead for “weeks or months.”
Patricia Richey, 80, was a longtime guest of the Harvest Inn Bed & Breakfast in Honesdale. According to the Times-Tribune in Scranton, she moved into the room in 2013 with her daughter, Moira Richey.
WNEP-TV reported that Moira Richey is a former police officer with the New York Police Department.
Owners Tony and Mary McHugh allowed the mother and daughter to live there, rent-free, because Moira McHugh was a friend of the family, the Times-Tribune reported. The Richeys lived on the third floor, while other guests of the bed and breakfast stayed primarily on the second floor of the home.
“For this reason, the owners, Mr. and Mrs. McHugh, could go weeks without going up to the third floor,” a Pennsylvania state trooper wrote in a search warrant application.
The last time the McHughs saw Patricia Richey alive was last fall, the Times-Tribune said. At that time, Tony McHugh wanted to get into their room to take out an air conditioner, but Moira McHugh told him she wanted to clean the room up first.
“Moira Richey is described as a pack rat,” the trooper wrote, according to the newspaper. “The air conditioner was finally removed, and that was the last time Mr. McHugh saw Patricia Richey.”
The application indicated that Moira Richey asked to move to a new room several months ago, telling her landlords that her mother kept the room they shared too warm. Several times since then, Tony McHugh tried to do maintenance or put in a new air conditioner in Patricia Richey’s room, but her daughter would give him excuses as to why he couldn’t go into the room.
The McHughs gave Moira Richey an ultimatum last week, and just before Tony McHugh was scheduled to do the necessary maintenance on Friday, she went downstairs and told the couple something was wrong with her mother.
“Mrs. McHugh asked if she was sick or dead,” the search warrant application read, according to the Times-Tribune. “Moira Richey said she didn’t know, but (her mother) wasn’t breathing.”
Mary McHugh went to the third floor and found Patricia Richey in bed, covered by a bedspread.
WNEP-TV reported that an autopsy by the Wayne County coroner was unable to determine Richey’s cause of death or officially identify the body because of the advanced decomposition.
It was not immediately clear if Moira Richey would face charges, but the case remains under investigation.