OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (WDAF) — The timeline is starting to fill in following the stunning news of an Overland Park family that was living with their dead relative’s body for over six years.
Perhaps the most remarkable piece of information FOX4 learned Thursday was that it was a person living in that home — the son-in-law of the deceased — who made the decision to call the police.
But what motivated that decision after so many years is still up for debate.
For the time being, prosecutors say they are not pursuing criminal charges because officials say keeping a dead body undisturbed in your home is not against the law in Kansas.
At this point, the criminal investigation is completely in the hands of the Social Security Administration.
Overland Park police confirmed the people living at the home face a fraud investigation. That could be related to cashing their deceased relative’s checks.
Beyond that, local authorities, including the Johnson County District Attorney, told FOX4 that nothing else they’re aware of was technically illegal.
FOX4 obtained the simple police report that didn’t include many details — apart from the information that Kirk Ritter was the reporting party for the situation.
The report also included phone numbers for the family members living at the home on West 99th Terrace. FOX4 tried calling to find out what convinced Ritter, the son-in-law to Mike Carroll, to call the police. But every number listed was disconnected or changed.
Lynn Ritter was also named on the police report. Out-of-state relatives said she is Mike Carroll’s daughter and is currently going through her own health issues.
They believe that’s why Kirk Ritter talked to the police.
“So her husband, after she went in the care facility, her husband reported it. He said she wouldn’t let him. Well, how do you not report something like that?” said Janet Carroll, niece of Mike Carroll. She currently lives in Russell, Iowa.
“My uncle had died July 1, 2016, and he had been dead in his bed since that time,” said Stefani Blubaugh, another niece of Mike Carroll. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona.
“It just makes you think if she didn’t get sick — would this still be going on? Because I feel like he’s covering his a** because she was serious enough where she might have passed away,” Blubaugh said.
Here’s a timeline of what FOX4 knows:
From November 2014 to July 2015, Mike Carroll lived at Delmar Gardens, a care facility.
According to a civil lawsuit, during that time, Carroll had an unpaid bill of nearly $40,000. He eventually left to live at this home on 99th Terrace, a half-mile away, which he still owned.
One year later, on July 1, 2016, he died, was left on a bed, and no one was notified.
During the next year, Carroll faced lawsuits about the money owed, which were served to the home. Court records show Kirk Ritter even accepted one of them — but said nothing about Carroll being dead.
Then, on Oct. 23, 2022, Kirk Ritter called Overland Park police, according to the report.
Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe said laws about dead bodies are unrestrictive, trying to incorporate people’s religious or personal beliefs.
“I think it was an intentional act to keep it very, very loosely constructed,” Howe said. “And again, if people do other things associated with that person’s death that are criminal-related, that doesn’t stop us from doing that type of investigation.”
“That’s usually a red flag that something else is going on because people usually take normal steps after a loved one has died,” Howe said.
A spokesperson for Overland Park police said their investigation shows Carroll died naturally, and there was no desecration.
The Ritters face no criminal charges, state or federal, at this point. However, the federal investigation into potential Social Security fraud is ongoing.