UPDATE (9:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 1) — A man is accused of using his late mother’s social security benefits after her decomposing body was found inside her rental home.

Michael Johnson was found in a closet at her home on East 5th Street in Belle on Thursday.

He told investigators he’s been living with his mother for the last two or three years and that she passed away in December 2022.

He said that his mom received social security benefits and he continued using them after she died. He said that she received between $5,000 to 6,000.

Thursday members of the Legal Process, deputies with the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department went to serve an eviction notice. When they arrived they noticed what they described as suspicious signs coming from the inside of the home.

The Belle Police Department made entry and found a decomposing body.

When the sheriff’s department returned with a search warrant they found Johnson hiding in a closet.

According to a criminal complaint, Johnson was not on his mother’s account and was not authorized to spend her benefits after her death.

KANAWHA COUNTY, WV (WOWK) – The Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office is investigating after a body was found inside of a home in Belle this morning. Deputies say they are treating the investigation as “suspicious.”

Deputies say the KCSO Legal Process Division and Belle Police Department officers arrived at a home in the 400 block of 5th Street in Belle to serve an eviction notice to the tenant. Authorities said when they arrived, they found no indication that anyone was there, but “detected suspicious signs” coming from inside the home.

According to the KCSO, the Belle PD then entered the home where they found a decomposing body inside. Officers then went back out of the home and contacted the KCSO Criminal Investigative Section for assistance. Detectives then obtained a search warrant and went into the home again where they found a male individual hiding in the closet.

The KCSO says through the investigation they learned the male was the tenant’s son, but could not confirm if the deceased is the tenant. Deputies say the deceased person was “found to be in decomposition stages” and identifying information on the person has not yet been established. The West Virginia State Medical Examiner’s Office is investigating to identify the body, deputies say.

According to the KCSO, no further information can be released at this time due to the ongoing investigation. Anyone with any information regarding this case should contact the KCSO at 304-357-0169 or submit a tip to the KCSO website.