The Times
  • Police official: Criminal charges pending in Wichelns case

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  • A state police official said possible criminal charges are pending in a case where the remains of a Little Falls man were discovered behind an abandoned home in May.
    Senior Investigator Timothy Blaise said Wednesday the charges would be in regard to the “financial aspect” of the case.
    “It’s still ongoing,” he said about the investigation.
    Blaise described the financial part of the case as “complicated,” but expects to announce charges within the next six weeks.
    The remains of Donald Wichelns were discovered in a cage-like crate, tightly wrapped in a blanket, covered with debris by the home at 59 Flint Ave. on May 1. An individual working at the property discovered the remains that day and alerted police.
    Blaise said while police are considering charges involving the finances, it is still an active “death investigation.” He said the body was “so badly decomposed” when it was discovered, it maybe delaying a report on the toxicology results. Police were able to identify the body through dental records weeks after it was discovered.
    Tammy Lynn Sterling-Barthelmess, Wichelns’ former caretaker, was charged with felony second-degree forgery a week after the discovery of the remains. She allegedly faked Wichelns’ name on a number of checks to withdraw his monthly Social Security payments.
    The house was unoccupied since about 2000, with people living there on and off. Herkimer County records reportedly showed Sterling-Barthelmess was the current owner of the property, who purchased the house in 2006 for $1.
    The last time police reportedly have any record of anyone encountering Wichelns was in 2004. Police are still investigating exactly how and when Wilchens died.
    GateHouse New York contributed to this article.
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