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Cousin of elderly couple found buried in Stockholm left with questions


CANTON — A cousin of the elderly woman discovered buried near her husband behind a mobile home in the town of Stockholm said her family is left hurt and filled with questions.

Remains unearthed Friday and Monday at 733 May Road have been positively identified by state police as those of Betty D. Babcock, 82, and her husband, Alvin S., 84. What began as a welfare fraud investigation last week led police to search for the bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Babcock, whose relatives say they had lost contact with the couple two years ago.

The mobile home was occupied most recently by Robert Bartlett, who cousins of Mrs. Babcock described as an acquaintance of the couple. Mr. Bartlett had been a neighbor of the Babcocks in Bombay, and the couple moved into the Stockholm trailer with Mr. Bartlett, his wife and his mother, according to Mrs. Babcock’s cousin Mary J. Proper, of Cadyville.

“I find it funny. Why would someone bury somebody like that, anyway?” Mrs. Proper said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “If they died naturally — I know they weren’t young — but if something happened to them, he should have let someone know.”

The trailer is now vacant; Mr. Bartlett was undergoing mental health evaluation in Ogdensburg as of late last week. No charges have been brought in the matter, state police said.

The search for the bodies distressed Mrs. Babcock’s cousins, and the identification of the remains has only raised more unanswered questions for the family.

“That is what bothers me, not being able to know if they were abused,” Mrs. Proper said. “I just hope and pray that it wasn’t something that he did to them.”

“She was the only one we had left in the family,” she said. The Babcocks had no children.

Mrs. Proper said Mr. Bartlett, who used to drive the Babcocks on errands, should have known they had family in the area, including Mrs. Proper’s brother, William A. Lamica, who lives in Malone.

“That’s what we can’t figure out. Why didn’t he let the family know?” Mrs. Proper said. “Betty must have told him that she had relatives around the area. We have all been upset since we found out, and it just doesn’t make any sense.”

The Babcocks always stayed close to where their family lived, and they often visited Mr. Lamica, Mrs. Proper said.

Mr. Lamica could not be reached Tuesday night, but in an earlier interview said the last time he saw his cousin was two years ago, when Mrs. Babcock stopped at his house before taking her husband to a Plattsburgh hospital to have his leg amputated. She gave him a kiss, he hugged her, and he never heard from her again, he said.

“This has been hard on him, and he is quite upset,” Mrs. Proper said. “He was very close with Betty. He is probably out making plans for services.”

Mrs. Proper said the family is planning a service in Malone followed by cremation of the remains, which will either stay with Mr. Lamica or be buried in Tupper Lake with Mrs. Babcock’s mother.

“They didn’t deserve this,” Mrs. Proper said. “Betty and Al were really good people, and they never did anything bad or wrong to anybody. … They are just very trusting of other people. That’s the way they are.”

Autopsy results are still pending to determine how the Babcocks died, St. Lawrence County District Attorney Mary E. Rain said. The first body, uncovered Friday in a concrete-lined box, was that of Mrs. Babcock, and Mr. Babcock’s body was discovered Monday night in nothing but a blanket, she said.

State police Lt. John R. Coryea said once the autopsy comes to a conclusion and it receives the report, the Violent Crimes Investigation Team will know which direction to take in its investigation.

“We’re looking for the pathologist to determine the cause of death and the coroner to determine manner or circumstances of death, that is, if it was accidental, natural or homicide,” Mr. Coryea said.

State police are remaining at 733 May Road to hold security as it is still an open investigation, state police Troop B spokeswoman Trooper Jennifer V. Fleishman said.

“It’s an excavation site where we are set up with forensic investigators and we are maintaining it until they find everything they need to find,” she said.

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