Fate in 'basement body' case depends on autopsy

Posted at 2:31 AM, Sep 25, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-25 02:31:13-04

NEWPORT, Ky.  – Christy Russell isn't getting out of jail soon – at least not until the coroner determines how Steven Reis died.

Russell is accused of stealing VA benefits from an Air Force veteran found buried in her basement.

Prosecutors say Russell took nearly $29,000 from Reis, who was dead for months before he was found.

When Russell appeared in Campbell County District Court on Thursday, she was hoping the judge would make it easier for her to get out of jail.

But the prosecutor wasn't going along.

"There was a deceased individual found buried in Ms. Russell's home," he said. "She then took that individual's benefits card from the VA and used it over a period of nine months."

After a tip led police to the body, they say she hid Reis' VA and credit cards to avoid getting caught.

"We believe she's a flight risk, and a danger to the community," said the prosecutor.

Judge Gregory Popovich agreed and kept her bond at $7,500.

Dayton resident Thomas Ackerson is taking her alleged behavior personally.

"Things like that, it makes me real upset, because my grandpa was a veteran," Ackerson said.

Deputy coroner Al Garnick says other than the fact that there were no gunshot or knife wounds, little is known about how Reis died.

As per the family's wishes, his remains have been cremated but have not yet been returned to relatives.