Kansas couple hid dead relatives body and continued to collect retirement benefits for six years

OVERLAND PARK, KS – A couple from Johnson County is facing federal charges for allegedly collecting over $215,000 in retirement benefits in the name of a deceased relative, whose body was concealed in their home for six years.

Mike Carroll, 81, a retired telecommunications worker, started receiving his pension and Social Security benefits in 2008. Authorities determined he died in 2016, based on digital data from his pacemaker. However, this information was not disclosed, and Carroll’s benefits continued to be deposited and spent posthumously.

Carroll’s body was discovered on October 23, 2022, when his son-in-law, Kirk Ritter, reported his death to the police. Initially, Overland Park police treated the case as a suspicious death. The Johnson County Medical Examiner’s Office later concluded that Carroll died of natural causes.

The accused couple, Lynn Ritter, 61, and Kirk Ritter, 61, are each facing one count of wire fraud and two counts of theft of government funds, as per felony information filed in the U.S. District of Kansas. Both have been summoned to appear in court next month. Lynn Ritter is Carroll’s daughter, and Kirk Ritter is his son-in-law. It is alleged that they intentionally hid Carroll’s death until his preserved body was found in his Overland Park home.

Attempts to contact the Ritters for comments were unsuccessful, and court records did not indicate any defense attorney representing them as of Friday.

Family members of Carroll have previously stated that the Ritters moved into Carroll’s home in the 1990s and were financially reliant on him. They also served as his caretakers in his later years. Family members were misled into believing that Carroll was alive until his death was reported to the police 15 months ago.

Prosecutors allege that over six years, monthly deposits from Carroll’s pension and the Social Security Administration totaling $216,067 were made into his bank account. Bank records reveal checks written from his account and cashed by the Ritters during this time. Other bank transfers from his account were also noted by authorities.

The Ritters are scheduled to make an initial appearance on the charges at the federal courthouse in Kansas City, Kansas, on February 2.