Man sentenced for body in suitcase

Michael W. Stivers

JOHNSTOWN — One of two Johnstown defendants involved in bringing a man’s body from Johnstown to Arkansas state last winter has been sentenced to four years in an Arkansas state prison.

The other defendant faces a court date in January in Arkansas.

Michael W. Stivers, 42, of 329 N. Perry St., pleaded guilty July 18 in Prairie County Court in Des Arc, Ark., to one felony count of abuse of a corpse, according to Jodi Hall of the Prarie County Prosecutor’s Office.

Hall said Friday that Stivers was sentenced sometime afterwards to four years in Arkansas state prison. He is currently serving his sentence at the Ouachita River Unit in Malvern, Ark.

Stivers and his girlfriend, Virginia L. “Ginger” Colvin, 56, also of 329 N. Perry St., are accused in the case of the late Robert Brooks, 89, of 329 N. Perry St. He died Jan. 11 at his apartment of natural causes. Police said Stivers and Colvin drove a truck and transported Brooks’ body in a suitcase from Johnstown to Arkansas.

Johnstown police Lt. David Gilbo said Arkansas police on March 5 came across a suitcase containing remains of Brooks in a field in Des Arc, Ark. Four people were charged in the case, including Stivers and Colvin.

Hall said Colvin, currently incarcerated in Arkansas, has a court date on Jan. 17 in Prairie County Court. It was unclear this week whether she will be entering a plea or be sentenced that date. She, too, has been charged with a felony count of abuse of a corpse.

Others charged in the case were Leeann N. Sager, 35, of 329 N. Perry St., Apartment 2; and Sager’s boyfriend — Aaron M. Rulison, 25, of 9 Eighth Ave., Gloversville. His case is pending.

The motive for the transporting of Brooks’ body has been listed as possible insurance fraud, but details have not been fully divulged by law enforcement.

Sager pleaded guilty Sept. 25 in Fulton County Court before Judge Polly A. Hoye in satisfaction of two different arrests, according to the office of Fulton County District Attorney Chad Brown.

She pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree criminal contempt, as part of a plea arrangement, in connection with her March 13 arrest by city police. She was charged initially with felony concealment of a human corpse, felony third-degree criminal possession of a weapon and misdemeanor second-degree criminal contempt.

Sentencing was adjourned to a later date, but Sager is expected to receive one year in the county jail.

The death of Brooks, a World War II veteran, was eventually recognized with full military honors in April. A five-state, military-style procession was conducted from Arkansas to South Carolina. His son, North Carolina resident Jay Brooks, was presented with his father’s ashes.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at