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Forensic report says Betty Babcock’s death was homicide

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CANTON — An autopsy report on Betty D. Babcock, the woman found buried behind a trailer in Stockholm, revealed that her death was a homicide.

The report follows an extensive investigation by state police along with forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Sikirica.

Ms. Babcock, 82, and her husband, Alvin S., 84, were exhumed March 21 and 24 from the backyard of Robert A. Bartlett Jr., 42, of 733 May Road, Stockholm. The nature of Mr. Babcock’s death is still under investigation, according to a news release from St. Lawrence County District Attorney Mary E. Rain.

Ms. Rain said she was unable to release more details because the investigation is ongoing.

The release specifically used the word homicide and did not specify whether Mrs. Babcock was murdered.

“I did not say murder,” Ms. Rain said. “It’s a homicide and I will determine charges after speaking with the ME and police.”

State police Senior Investigator Timothy J. Peets said while the investigation is continuing, a decision on what charges will be filed will be made after talking with the medical examiner and Ms. Rain.

“Further charges are being considered,” Mr. Peets said. “I believe it is putting the cart ahead of the horse on what charges will be made.”

Those charges could include criminally negligent homicide, Mr. Peets said.

The state police forensic unit recovered the bodies of the Babcocks in late March. Both bodies were transported March 25 to Albany Medical Center, where Dr. Sikirica performed autopsies.

Troopers were first alerted to the burial site during an investigation into possible welfare fraud initiated by the county Department of Social Services and Ms. Rain’s office. Mr. Bartlett is charged with one count of welfare fraud and three counts of offering a false instrument for filing.

He is accused of receiving food stamps and heating assistance from Nov. 21, 2012, to Feb. 28 totaling $3,258, while gaining access to Mr. Babcock’s Social Security checks and state retirement payments for his own use. According to testimony during an April 4 preliminary hearing in Fowler Town Court, he told a Social Services official that he had been receiving $1,135 a month from Mr. Babcock as a debt owed for taking care of the elderly couple. He said he didn’t consider it income, which is why he never reported it.

He admitted to burying the Babcocks’ bodies during his court appearance.

“This has been a complicated investigation and I commend the New York State Police on their investigation under extremely difficult and challenging conditions,” Ms. Rain said. “Because of the complexity of this case, the entire file must be reviewed with law enforcement and Dr. Sikirica before filing additional charges.”

Additional charges will be filed, Ms. Rain said.

Mr. Bartlett is being held in St. Lawrence County jail, Canton, on $10,000 cash and bond. He is awaiting county grand jury action.

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