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Clover man concealed death of mother, aunt to collect on their government benefits

Investigators determined Thomas Gardner, Jr., kept their bodies hidden for years to benefit financially.

CLOVER, S.C. — A York County man concealed the death of his mother and aunt for years to collect their government benefits, the York County Sheriff's Office announced Friday.

Thomas Gardner, Jr., was found dead from a self inflicted gunshot inside 331 Griggs Road on July 31, according to the York County's Sheriff Office. Three days later, investigators announced the identities of two other bodies found in the Clover home as 69-year-old Susan Gardner and 77-year-old Ruth Allred.  

Susan Gardner was his mother, and Ruth Allred was his aunt, according to officials.

On Friday, investigators revealed Thomas Gardner left a note explaining his mother had died in November of 2015, and his aunt died six months later.

"[Thomas Gardner] indicated that he was afraid that he would be blamed for their deaths and that is why he did not contact authorities," York County Corner Sabrina Gast sad "The condition of the remains were consistent with the time frame given by Mr. Gardner."

Allred died of natural causes, according to authorities. The cause of Ms. Gardner's death remains under investigation but officials said no traumatic injuries were identified.

Deputies responded to the home in July after relatives requested a well-being check at the resident. Officials told NBC Charlotte this was the second welfare check at the home that month.

The remains of Allred and Gardner were found wrapped up inside a bedroom.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to report Thomas Gardner, Jr. did not live in the home where the bodies were found on Griggs Road.

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