Two Arrested in Juneau Co. Death Investigation

CBS News WKBT, Wisconsin/May 9, 2008

The Juneau County Sheriff's Department and Coroner's Office are investigating the death of a 90-year-old woman in Necedah.

Sheriff Brent Oleson says a deputy was called to the home of Alvina Middlesworth in Necedah Wednesday night at 4:45pm for a welfare check. Family of the elderly woman had told deputies she had not made contact with them in about two months.

The deputy found Middlesworth's dead and decaying body in a bathroom at the home. According to Oleson, Middlesworth had been dead for a long time, possibly two months. The sheriff's department says Middlesworth may have died of natural causes, but they are waiting on results of an autopsy that was performed.

There were also three people living at the home, 35-year-old Tammy Lewis, a.k.a Sister Mary Bernadett, a 15-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy. Deputies arrested Lewis and 57-year-old Alan Bushey, a.k.a Bishop John Peter, after investigating the death.

Lewis was charged Friday in Juneau County Court with two counts of causing mental harm to a child and one count of obstructing an officer. Bushey is charged with two counts of causing mental harm to a child.

District Attorney Scott Southworth says Bushey and Lewis are self-proclaimed leaders of their own religious order, which they claim is connected to the Catholic Church before Vatican II. During court proceedings, Southworth said there is information that Bushey and Lewis were collecting Middlesworth's social security checks and an annuity.

Southworth also says Bushey and Lewis had gotten possession of Middlesworth's will, which lays out who gets her money. Neither Lewis, nor Bushey is a recipient.

Southworth says more charges will likely be filed , but authorities need to collect more information. If further investigation shows Bushey and Lewis were collecting the annuity after Middlesworth's death, Southworth says the two will be charged with hiding a corpse. Southworth also says Bushey and Lewis could face federal charges for collecting Middlesworth's social security checks.

Authorities have given no indication of how any of the people involved in the investigation - Lewis, Bushey, the two children and the elderly woman - are connected.

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