Women hid roommate’s dead body during parties, police say

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Stephanie Hillburn mugshot. (Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office)

JOHNSTOWN, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Johnstown Police Department says they arrested 43-year-old Stephanie Hillburn last Wednesday in connection with an investigation into an overdose in February. She’s been charged with concealment of a human corpse, a class E felony worth up to 4 years with a conviction.

Police said that an alleged accomplice, Deborah Elgin, who is currently in state prison, is likely to face a similar charge.

On Valentine’s Day 2021, police received an anonymous call for a welfare check on Patricia Barter, 62, who lived on Byard Street. Officers headed to the home to speak with several people, including two of Barter’s roommates, Hillburn and Deborah Eglin. Police said the two became nervous when asked to speak with Barter.

Police say Hillburn and Eglin directed them to Barter’s bedroom, where they found her corpse lying on her bed. She “appeared to have been deceased for some time.” Detectives and the Fulton County Coroner’s Office were called in.

Detectives say their investigation determined that Barter likely suffered a lethal overdose during the week of February 6. With Elgin’s help, Hillburn allegedly moved the body to the bedroom “in an attempt to conceal Barter’s corpse from being discovered by guests.”

Police say they kept living under the same roof with Barter’s corpse, even hosting several parties and gatherings there during the following week. Police say that neither contacted police because they feared an investigation would uncover other illegal activity.

Warrants were issued for both, and the Johnstown Police Department says that Eglin is incarcerated in state prison on unrelated charges. They said she’ll be arraigned after authorities coordinate with the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. Police say that Hillburn, however, avoided them.

Ultimately, Hillburn was nabbed by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office just after midnight on Wednesday of last week. Deputies said they arrested three people at a traffic stop in Amsterdam. Hillburn was among them and was charged with criminal possession of a hypodermic instrument. She was then released to Johnstown to be processed on the open warrant.

Johnstown Police Chief David Gilbo said authorities are grateful that someone who visited the home notified authorities that there was a body there. Gilbo said that they suspected that Elgin and Hillburn may have made purchases using Barter’s social security debit card, but could not corroborate with any physical evidence.

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