Man accused of strangling mom, keeping body in New York motel for 7 weeks before dumping it

PLEASANT VALLEY, N.Y. – A man strangled his mother in the motel where they lived, kept her body there for nearly two months and then dumped it in South Carolina, police said Saturday.

Charles R. Cole was arrested Friday in the death of 76-year-old Betty Cole.

Police launched an investigation on Oct. 6 after family members called investigators to say they couldn’t reach her. Detectives allege Charles Cole strangled his mother on Aug. 16 at the Pleasant Valley Motel, where they were living along with his wife, Ronalda Cole, and kept the body there for seven weeks.

They said he then stuffed the body into a plastic bin, put the bin in his car, drove from Pleasant Valley, in Dutchess County about 80 miles north of New York City, to Lodge, South Carolina, and left the body in a secluded area.

“I find it hard to imagine circumstances that could lead to a son strangling his mother, but to also live with her body in a motel room for seven weeks and to then travel several states away to dump her body like trash makes this a particularly disturbing and unusual case,” state police Capt. John Ryan said.

Cole was arraigned on a murder charge and was jailed without bail. His wife was charged with tampering with evidence and was jailed in lieu of $10,000 bail. They couldn’t be reached by telephone for comment, and information on their attorneys was unavailable.

Police said Betty Cole’s body was found Oct. 17. They did not say why the body was left in South Carolina.

A man who answered the phone at the Pleasant Valley Motel on Saturday denied there was a body there for seven weeks, saying guests would have complained about the smell. He said police made the story up.

The motel, where rooms start at $65 per night, is located on a rural thoroughfare 7 miles from the centre of Poughkeepsie. Its website says its country surroundings “provide a beautiful change of pace should business or pleasure bring you to Dutchess County.”