Tucson Citizen, Mar. 29, 2003
DAVID L. TEIBEL
The Pima County Attorney’s Office will not seek charges in the death of a man whose body decomposed in his home for three weeks as family and friends reportedly prayed over it for resurrection, a prosecutor said yesterday.
The decision was made after an autopsy on the body of James W. Killeen, 50, a Union Pacific Railroad worker, was inconclusive, said Rick Unklesbay, chief criminal deputy county attorney.
Killeen’s body remains in the Pima County morgue, said county Medical Examiner Bruce O. Parks.
Arrangements for release of the remains are pending.
Parks said an autopsy finalized this week found no evidence of trauma such as signs of beating, stabbing or gunshot wounds.
No signs of poisoning or malnutrition were found, Parks added.
Killeen’s brother Christopher Killeen said James told him he had been fasting as part of a newfound religious belief.
Parks said forensic pathologists were hindered in the autopsy by the advanced state of decomposition.
When he was found Jan. 23, Killeen had been dead for at least three weeks, Parks said.
Unklesbay said Killeen’s widow, Eleanor Killeen, has contacted his office about release of the body from the Medical Examiner’s Office.
He said he has no objection. Bodies at times are held for lengthy periods as evidence if homicide is suspected.
Based on evidence gathered by Tucson police detectives and the autopsy, there are no grounds for prosecution in Killeen’s death, Unklesbay said.
The body was found in the bedroom of Killeen’s South Hillerman Drive home, in Midvale Park, after relatives told police they had tried and failed to reach him since late last year.
In one report of the death, officer Michael Kishbaugh wrote that when he walked into the home, he was hit by “an overwhelming odor of death.”
Officer Corey Doggett wrote in another report that Killeen’s brother Christopher “said that James became involved in a ‘cult.’ “
Doggett added, “Chris also said that James told him that he was going to be resurrected by the ‘cult’ leader, Stan Adair Bennett.”
The wife “kept the victim in the bedroom and she and others prayed so they could revive him,” Detective Raul Olivas wrote in a report.
The wife and Bennett could not be reached for comment.
Records at the Arizona Corporation Commission list Bennett as an officer with the World Ministries, in the 22000 block of South Helvetia Road.
Anita Royal, the county’s public fiduciary, said her office is not involved in arrangements for Killeen’s burial or cremation. It is acting as a point of contact for Killeen’s survivors.
Eleanor Killeen has expressed a willingness to assume responsibility for the burial but doesn’t have the money for it, Royal said.
As the closest relative, she has the obligation to take care of the remains, Royal said.
But, Royal said, if Eleanor Killeen cannot, Christopher Killeen has said he will.
Christopher Killeen, reached yesterday at his Rhode Island home, said that’s correct.
Royal said the body would be kept in the county morgue until the matter is resolved.
“I’m disappointed. It’s directly related to their holding on to the body so long,” Christopher Killeen said, referring to the inconclusive autopsy and the period the body was kept in the house.