SALT LAKE CITY — A Panguitch man pleaded guilty Thursday to burying his 90-year-old mother's body in a coal bin in her home after she died. He was sentenced the same day to probation.
Pete Marker, 66, pleaded guilty in his initial court appearance in the case to desecration of a human body, a third-degree felony, while an additional class B misdemeanor charge of failure to report finding a human body was dismissed.
A prison sentence of up to five years in prison was suspended in lieu of two years of probation, according to court documents. If Marker successfully completes probation, including any mental health treatment that could be recommended, the charge against him may be reduced.
Marker was arrested Jan. 10 after police learned he had sent his niece a letter explaining that her grandmother, Roma Bowman, had died of natural causes on Christmas Day, and that because he had promised her a "green funeral," he had buried her in the hills west of Panguitch.
But when sheriff's deputies picked up Marker to interview him at the Garfield County Jail, Marker reported that after finding his mother deceased in bed, he had gone to the mountains to scout locations for a burial but became concerned about the number of people hunting elk in the area.
"Marker stated that he was aware that burying someone in the hills was against the law, and he thought about notifying the sheriff's office but did not do so," charges state.Comment on this story
Instead, Marker said he wrapped his mother's body in a jacket and bedding, then used a large sign to drag her down to the basement of the home, according to the charges. Marker told investigators he placed the body in an unused coal storage room, then boarded the room back up.
Investigators went to the home, pried off the boards and began digging in the coal, finding Bowman's body buried there as Marker had described it, according to the charges.
State court records show Marker has no criminal history in Utah. He was set to be released from jail after pleading guilty and being sentenced Thursday, court documents state.