Family of Milton woman pleas for investigation into her death
MILTON, Fla. (WEAR) —
The family of a Milton woman who died a year ago held a candlelight vigil for her on Thursday night. Betty Joan Strong's family continues to search for answers about why she died at 75 years old in Harpster, Idaho on December 14, 2016.
"I think my mother was the most honest, deep down honest, human being I've ever met my life," Strong's daughter, Darlene Belanger said.
The Idaho County Coroner ruled Strong died of natural causes, but Belanger and her seven siblings are convinced foul play was involved. Belanger said ever since her mom got remarried in 2011, her mom slowly stopped talking to family. The last time Strong's children said they heard from her was March 2014. They did not learn about her death until January of this year and at that time, Strong had already been gone a month. Belanger said her brother bumped into their mom's husband at their Milton home and told him they had moved to Idaho and she died there.
"He took her and we searched for two years and didn't find her," Belanger said. "He concealed her death from the family."
According to the Idaho County Coroner's report, Strong's husband said she stopped breathing at home and he took her to the hospital. The report states she died by the time they got there. Strong's husband told a deputy at the hospital she had not been eating lately because of Parkinson's Disease and she had been confined to a bed for years. Cody Funke, the Idaho County Coroner, told Channel 3 News they never conducted an autopsy. Strong was cremated.
Belanger said they do not buy the story because their mom's medical records show she was tested for Parkinson's Disease and she did not have it.
"They did no autopsy, they save no samples, they didn't even Google her name to see if she was a missing person," Belanger said.
Amy Belanger said the family asked the Idaho County Sheriff's Office to open an investigation after they learned of her death.
"Since that time in spite of conceding that the circumstances warrant an investigation, nothing has been done," Amy Belanger said.
Strong's husband has not been charged with a crime. Phone numbers associated with him have been disconnected, so Channel 3 News has not been able to reach him.
The family said their only hope now is that their pleas to the community will spark investigators to take a second look.
"There's a lot of answers that we need, that we deserve," Darlene Belanger said. "We deserve these answers."
Undersheriff Jim Gorges with the Idaho County Sheriff's Office told Channel Three News the family contacted them again this week and their office is following up. Gorges said he has reached out to the husband for further questioning through email, but has not heard back.