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Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016

Dad was gone but his check went on

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

I'm sorry but this one was just too good to pass up. Larry McWilliams was just an average guy. Not too bright and by no means wealthy. He rarely left his home and had few, if any, friends. All Poor Larry had in life was his wife and two loving children. His health was also an issue so when the Lewis County, Mo., man died in January of 1997, it was not unexpected.

Larry McWilliams died of natural causes in his small rural home on a cold January day just about 10 years ago now. But there was no apparent grieving for Larry, no funeral, no final resting place. In fact, it took the government almost 10 years to learn that Larry was no longer among the living.

Now how could this happen, you might ask? A man leaves this Earth to meet his maker and not one soul even knows of his passing. Well, actually - as would be expected - his loving wife and two loving children knew of his death. But they also knew that reporting his death would mean the end of Larry's monthly Social Security check that was all important.

So, the family made a compassionate decision. They prepared their usual dinner that January evening and while they dined, they took dear ol' Dad and threw his body on a trash fire outside. From time to time, Betty McWilliams, his wife, would tend the fire to make sure none of her husband's bones were left unburned. And then they kept their mouths shut.

For almost 10 years now, the postman each month brought those Social Security checks which now totaled $133,000 in benefits since his demise. And no one was the wiser.

Police haven't said exactly how they uncovered the truth. But the mother, son and daughter will be sentenced in February for bilking Social Security. They each face 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. I suspect a judge or jury won't be overly kind to the family.

U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway said "the three defendants bring a whole new meaning to greed."

Family members could not be reached for comments. Apparently their phone was disconnected. I can only assume they are facing some hard times without those monthly Social Security checks. At least now they can look forward to a warm bed and three meals a day. The irony, of course, is that the federal government will still be paying their bills.

I hope Larry is silently smiling somewhere.

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen