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Woman gets probation for burying mother, church embezzlement

Battle Creek Enquirer

Leroy Township – A woman convicted of burying her mother’s body in the yard of a southwestern Michigan home and embezzling money from a church has been sentenced to three years of probation.

Marcia Lutz, 46, pleaded guilty in January to charges of concealing the death of an individual and embezzlement. She was sentenced Friday to probation and ordered to pay more than $34,000 in restitution and nearly $3,000 in fines and costs, the Battle Creek Enquire r reported.

The body of 74-year-old Phyllis Lutz was found in January 2019 wrapped in blankets and buried in a hole in an area used as a burn pit at her home in Leroy Township, about 110 miles (160 kilometers) west of Detroit. Police believe she had died of natural causes.

Marcia Lutz had also embezzled between $20,000 and $50,000 from the First Christian Church, where she had worked as treasurer.

The church’s former pastor, Rev. Kingery Clingenpeel, told Calhoun County Circuit Court Judge Sarah Lincoln on Friday that the church was unable to recover from the embezzlement and has since closed.

Clingenpeel, 73, told the judge Marcia Lutz often reported to the congregation about the progress of her mother, even after Phyllis Lutz was dead.

“The Sunday before my wife called the police to check on Phyllis, Marcia reported to the church ‘my mother has reached a plateau and is neither better nor worse,’” he told the court Friday.

At the time of her January guilty plea, Marcia Lutz told the judge her mother had wanted to be buried near her home.

The judge dismissed that idea Friday, saying she believes Lutz only wanted to continue receiving her mother’s Social Security benefits.