Woman Hid Dead Roommate's Body For Days, Hosted Parties: Police

By Jason Hall

August 17, 2021

Photo: Montgomery County Sheriff's Office

Police in Johnstown, New York arrested a woman accused of hiding the dead body of her roommate after an overdose incident, which even included hosting several parties and gatherings at the home during the following week.

Stephanie Hillburn, 43, was charged with concealment of a human corpse, a class E felony and could face up to four years in jail if convicted, News10 reports.

The Johnstown Police Department also confirmed another roommate and alleged accomplice, Deborah Elgin, is already in state custody on an unrelated charge and is likely to receive a similar charge to Hillburn, News10 reports.

The department said it received an anonymous call on February 14 for a welfare check on Patricia Barter, 62, who lived on Byard Street with the two women.

Officers responded to the home and spoke to several people, including Hillburn and Elgin, who reportedly got nervous when officers asked to speak with Barter.

The department said Hillburn and Elgin directed officers to Barter's bedroom, where they found her corpse lying on her bed and "appeared to have been deceased for some time," News10 reports.

Detectives and the Fulton County Coroner's Office were called in to join the investigation after the body was found.

Detectives said their investigation revealed Barter likely experienced a lethal overdose during the week of February 6 and, with Elgin's assistance, Hillburn allegedly moved the corpse to the bedroom “in an attempt to conceal Barter’s corpse from being discovered by guests.”

Police said the two women continued living with Barter's corpse inside the home during the following week, even hosting parties and gatherings, but neither contacted police as they feared an investigation could determine illegal activity.

Warrants were issued for both women and the Johnstown Police Department confirmed Elgin, who was already incarcerated in state prison on unrelated charges, will be arraigned after authorities coordinate with the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

Hillburn was arrested by the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office just after midnight last Wednesday (August 11) during a traffic stop in which two others were also arrested.

Hillburn was charged with criminal possession of a hypodermic instrument in relation to the traffic stop and later released to Johnstown to be processed on the open warrant in relation to the incident involving Barter's corpse.

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