Va. woman kept dead mother’s body wrapped in blankets, air fresheners for 6 weeks

WASHINGTON — A Bristol, Virginia, woman is charged with concealing her mother’s body under dozens of blankets and air fresheners in their home, more than six weeks after her mother died.

Jo-Whitney Outland told WJHL TV she was with her 78-year-old mother Rosemary when she died on Dec. 29, 2018.

“She woke up and said, ‘I can’t breathe’ and then she died,” Outland said. “I tried to give her CPR and it didn’t work.”

Bristol Police Sgt. Steve Crawford said a family member who was not able to reach Rosemary Outland Monday, climbed through a house window, saw a decomposing body and called police.

“The body was in a chair and her legs were propped up,” said Crawford. “The whole thing was covered in blankets and there were air fresheners on top of the blankets.”

Crawford said there were 54 layers of blankets and clothing covering the body, and 66 air fresheners.

“I covered her up out of respect for my mother,” Outland said. “I covered her up with blankets. Yeah, I did.”

Outland acknowledged she had continued to live with her mother’s body in their home, which is near the Tennessee border.

“Yes, I put air fresheners around her body because I was in the room with her every night after she died,” Outland said.

Asked why she hadn’t alerted police when her mother had died, Outland didn’t know: “I can’t explain to you how come I didn’t.” However, she said she just wanted to stay with her mother.

Police found dogs and cats living in the home. The animals appeared to have been well-fed, but were removed by animal control.

In Virginia, the penalty for a class 6 felony includes not less than one year but not more than five years behind bars, and a fine of no more than $2500.

Outland has been released until trial.

Watch WJHL’s report:

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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