After her elderly father died of natural causes up to two years ago, Debra Fisher and her roommate concealed his death by stuffing his remains into a large ice chest, and the women stole almost $34,000 worth of his Social Security checks before being caught this past March, authorities in St. Tammany Parish have concluded.
Fisher, 58, and Heidi Todd, 44, were booked in July with felony theft for allegedly depositing Charles Fisher’s Social Security checks fraudulently, sheriff’s Capt. George Bonnett said Thursday. Deputies had previously arrested the pair of women on state cemetery law violations for allegedly storing Charles Fisher’s corpse in a cooler rather than disposing of it legally.
Charles Fisher, 83, had died from heart disease between 12 months and two years prior to the discovery of his body on March 6, said Melanie Comeaux, executive director of the parish coroner’s office. He had been receiving $1,315 monthly from the Social Security Administration at the time, and the money was deposited directly into his checking account, the Sheriff’s Office explained.
When Charles Fisher died, Debra Fisher and Todd didn’t tell anybody what had happened. The women supposedly shoved the man’s body into a 160-quart ice chest and kept the cooler inside the apartment near Slidell where they lived. Charles Fisher’s hands were sliced off, put into a box and stowed in a freezer, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Investigators believe the women then electronically transferred Charles Fisher’s Social Security funds to Debra Fisher’s bank account and paid for their living expenses with the money. Debra Fisher and Todd allegedly pilfered $33,974.60 in this manner, Bonnett noted.
Air-conditioning system repairs at the roommates’ small, one-story apartment complex on South Military Road proved to be their undoing. Because Debra Fisher and Todd turned away workers who needed to access their apartment to complete repairs, sheriff’s deputies were called out to resolve the situation.
Debra Fisher, seemingly unnerved by the deputies’ visit, met with investigators hours later and told them where she had been hiding her dead dad’s body. All that was left of Charles Fisher when deputies found him was a mummified, liquefying skeleton. The coroner’s office used DNA to confirm Charles Fisher’s identity.
Debra Fisher and Todd were jailed, and court documents show prosecutors have since charged each of them with unlawful disposal of remains as well as mutilating or disinterring human remains. Sheriff’s Detective Randy Loumiet then analyzed records from the Social Security Administration and local banks to determine what was going on with Charles Fisher’s checks, and deputies subsequently added the theft count, Bonnett said.
Fisher and Todd remained in custody Thursday in lieu of $40,000 and $30,000 bond, respectively, on the cemetery law charges. On the theft charge, Fisher was given no bond, and Todd’s was set at $50,000.
At a news conference in the early phases of the case, St. Tammany Sheriff Jack Strain acknowledged the weirdness of the entire affair by bluntly remarking, “We all go through life and think some things are stranger than fiction. This fits that description.”
Ramon Antonio Vargas can be reached at email@example.com or 985.645.2848.