New York State Police
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October 26, 2015 04:10 PM

Police in upstate New York have arrested a 48-year-old man and his 40-year-old wife, claiming the couple lived in a motel room for nearly two months alongside the corpse of the husband’s mother.

Charles Cole allegedly strangled his 76-year-old mother, Betty, on Aug. 16, according to a New York State Police statement obtained by PEOPLE. The alleged crime took place inside a room mother and son rented at the Pleasant Valley Motel in Pleasant Valley, New York, the statement says.

Cole was charged on Friday with second degree murder. The police statement claims Cole was tracked to a homeless shelter in Poughkeepsie, New York – nearly a week after his mother’s body was found in a wooded area off of Interstate 95 near Lodge, South Carolina.

Cole’s wife, Ronalda, was arrested on Oct. 18 on an evidence tampering charge for allegedly helping her husband dispose Betty’s remains. She is being held on $10,000 cash bail. Cole is also being held without bond.

According to the statement, family members had difficulty contacting Betty and reached out to cops to check into her wellbeing. Cops say The Coleses kept Betty’s body in the motel room until a planned trip down south, during which they dumped the body.

“I find it hard to imagine circumstances that could lead to a son strangling his mother, but to also live with her body in a motel room for 7 weeks and to then travel several states away to dump her body like trash, makes this a particularly disturbing and unusual case,” Capt. John J. Ryan of the New York State Police’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation says in the statement.

Information on the Coleses’ attorneys, or whether they have entered pleas to the charges against them, was unavailable at press time.

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