NEW YORK - A man fearful he'd become homeless after the death of his doting 85-year-old grandmother five months ago kept her corpse wrapped in plastic bags inside her house, masking the smell with air fresheners and a fan, police said Thursday.
Christopher Fuhrer, 30, was arrested on improper burial and other charges after officers conducting a welfare check at Erika Kraus-Breslin's two-story Queens home Wednesday discovered her body, according to police.
"She loved this kid," said Toni Binanti, owner of a nearby bakery where Kraus-Breslin worked for nearly two decades. "Out of all of her grandchildren, this was the one she talked about the most."
The medical examiner was to determine exactly how Kraus-Breslin died, though police said the death itself didn't appear suspicious.
Fuhrer moved in with his grandmother on a tree-lined, dead-end street in the borough's quiet Ridgewood neighborhood several years ago, Binanti said. Neighbors described him as a quiet man who rarely socialized with others.
After Kraus-Breslin's daughter called from out-of-state and asked police to check up on her, Fuhrer told responding officers he was worried he'd have nowhere to live once his grandmother died, police said.
Officers found Kraus-Breslin in an upstairs bedroom, police said. Her body was wrapped in layers of plastic bags, which Fuhrer told the officers he applied as the smell of her decomposing body worsened, they said.
Fuhrer was in custody Thursday and unavailable to comment. It wasn't clear if he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
A shocked Binanti said she still couldn't quite get her head around the morbid discovery.
"She was his escape," Binanti said. "She gave him everything."
Associated Press writer Jake Pearson contributed to this report.