Tuesday, April 22, 2014
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Police have identified mummified remains of a man found in a Lexington storage unit and the man's daughter has been charged with stealing his Social Security checks.
Now, federal authorities are searching for the indicted woman's mother, who was last seen in March.
Fayette County Coroner Gary Ginn told the Lexington Herald-Leader that the remains found in the Econo-Self Storage unit in January are those of Luther Broughton. His daughter, Judith Maria Broughton, stands accused in Texas of stealing more than $150,000 of her father's Social Security retirement benefits.
Ginn said he could not comment on the cause of death. Ginn wasn't sure how long Luther Broughton's body had been in storage, but said "the unit was probably rented specifically for that."
Authorities are now looking for Judith Broughton's mother.
Judith Broughton has pleaded not guilty to taking the benefits from Nov. 10, 1997, through Aug. 31, 2011. Lexington police found Luther Broughton's body in the storage unit Jan. 8, after the Social Security Administration asked for help to serve a search warrant there.
According to federal court documents, Social Security agent Bianca Mendez testified that Judith Broughton rented the storage unit in 1990 under her name and her father's name, and she has been making payments on it ever since.
According to the documents, when Judith Broughton signed the contract to rent the unit, "she requested that she never receive correspondence from the storage unit company," the building's owner, Bob Sigler, told investigators.
Social Security has a practice of getting in touch with anyone older than 100 as part of its Centenary Project, and the investigation began when the agency did so in this case, court documents show.
"A phone conversation between a Social Security representative and a person with a high-pitched voice, claiming to be Luther Broughton, aroused suspicion," according to the documents.
From 1997 to 2006, Luther Broughton's Social Security checks were mailed to a post office box owned by Judith Broughton and they were deposited directly into an account at Fort Davis State Bank in Texas. The account was in Luther Broughton's name, but his daughter had access to it, court documents indicate.
The documents say that Judith Broughton earns $270 a month working for the National Psychic Network. She is being held without bond at the West Texas Detention Facility in Sierra Blanca and is being represented by a public defender.
Last week, a federal judge granted an order requiring her to provide handwriting samples in an attempt to determine who endorsed the Social Security checks that were sent to her address.
The court documents state that Judith Broughton's mother "has not been seen since early March of 2014, and a search has been instigated."