Johnstown woman arrested in Arkansas after body found in suitcase

She faces abuse-of-a-corpse charge
Virginia Lee Colvin, 56, of North Perry Street in Johnstown.
Virginia Lee Colvin, 56, of North Perry Street in Johnstown.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

The Arkansas State Police have apprehended a Johnstown woman they sought for questioning in connection with their discovery Sunday of a deceased man in a suitcase in Prairie County, Ark.

Virginia Lee Colvin, 56, of North Perry Street in Johnstown, was arrested by state police in Arkansas Wednesday evening.

Authorities in New York and Arkansas have been conducting a joint investigation since the discovery of the body on Sunday. Police believe Colvin and a Johnstown man named Michael Strivers placed a deceased elderly Johnstown man in a suitcase and drove him 19 hours to Des Arc, Ark., for reasons unknown. 

The deceased man, whom authorities are not naming pending notification of next of kin, is believed to have been 89 or 90. Johnstown Police Department Lt. David Gilbo said investigators believe the man had been dead anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks when he was transported in the suitcase. Gilbo said he believes the man died of natural causes.

Gilbo said the story police were told is that the body had been discovered in the suitcase by young relatives of either Colvin or Strivers, which led them to dump the body in a field in Des Arc, Ark. Police in Arkansas stopped the blue pickup truck that Colvin and Strivers were driving in and arrested Strivers on an unrelated charge, but released Colvin.

After the body was discovered, police said they were looking to apprehend Colvin for questioning. She was arrested 6 p.m. Wednesday in a residence in Perry County, Arkansas. She is currently being held in the Prairie County Jail on charges related to the abuse of a corpse, according to a press release from the Arkansas State Police. Strivers is being held in the Lonoke County [Arkansas] Jail on charges unrelated to the discovery of the body, but is being questioned by state police special agents. 

Gilbo said Wednesday that police believe Colvin and Strivers lived with the deceased man at 329 North Perry St., possibly as caretakers for the man, and may have been transporting his body in a Social Security or insurance scheme. 


Gilbo said neither Colvin nor Strivers is related to the man. A third woman who is also unrelated to the man but lives at the North Perry Street address was taken in for questioning by the Johnstown Police Department Wednesday morning but was released that afternoon. 

Gilbo could not be reached for comment on this story Thursday evening. 

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