Couple who transported body in suitcase might not be extradited

Two charged with transporting body in suitcase face stiffer sentence in Arkansas

Gilbo

Gilbo

JOHNSTOWN — City police are leaning toward not extraditing a city couple who brought a deceased Johnstown man’s remains to central Arkansas, stuffed inside a suitcase, because they face stronger punishment in that state, if convicted.

Police Lt. David Gilbo on Wednesday also released the name of the 89-year-old deceased man as Robert D. Brooks, of 329 N. Perry St.

“We still believe it to be natural cases,” he said of Brooks’ death.

Michael W. Stivers, no age available, and his girlfriend, Virginia L. “Ginger” Colvin, 56, both of Johnstown, are in the Prairie County Jail in Des Arc, Arkansas.

Authorities said they allegedly transported Brooks’ body by pickup truck from Johnstown to Arkansas. They are charged with felony counts of abuse of a corpse.

Gilbo said Brooks’ identification was found in the truck in Arkansas.

Police are investigating a potential fraud case, they said.

Authorities in Prairie County, Ark. on Wednesday still weren’t publicly releasing Brooks’ identity. His corpse was found March 5 in a suitcase in a farmer’s field in Des Arc, Ark.

“I was finally able to make contact with the next of kin over the weekend,” Gilbo said.

A call to the Prairie County Sheriff’s Department on Wednesday was not returned.

Gilbo said Stivers and Colvin transported the man’s corpse in a suitcase from his 329 N. Perry St. home, where the three had resided.

He said Colvin identified herself as Brooks’ caregiver, since at least 2012.

“Nobody in this case who were involved were related whatsoever,” Gilbo said.

Gilbo said he has been in “conversations” with Fulton County District Attorney Chad Brown regarding the case. They have discussed whether to extradite Stivers and Colvin for alleged crimes involving the body in Fulton County, he said.

But Gilbo said the couple face stiffer prosecution in Arkansas. He said Stevers and Colvin may face six to 10 years if convicted in Arkansas of felony abuse of a corpse. He said they only face 1 1/3 to four years in prison in New York for conviction of a similar crime.

Gilbo said Brooks lived in the Gloversville and Broadalbin areas for most of his 90 years. But he said the man had lived in Arkansas for a couple of years before moving back to Fulton County and settling in the North Perry Street home on Jan. 1.

A previously published story in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette said Stivers and Colvin have relatives in Arkansas.

The newspaper also said the deceased was about 4-foot, 11-inches tall and was placed in a big suitcase for the trip to Arkansas.

After the remains were found March 5 in the farmer’s field in Arkansas, Johnstown police had the 329 N. Perry St. home under surveillance on March 6.

A search warrant was secured for the building through Acting City Court Judge Louise K. Sira. Johnstown police and state police brought out bags of potential evidence all day on March 7.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

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