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Crime News Family Crimes

Woman Jailed For Burying 67-Year-Old Mother In Her Backyard, Hiding Her Death, Authorities Say

Miriam Lockhart’s remains were found in a “recently dug grave” at a home in Augusta, Georgia earlier this month, authorities said. It's unclear how she died.

By Dorian Geiger
Melissa Lockhart Pd

A Georgia woman was arrested after her mother’s remains were found buried in her home’s backyard. 

Melissa Lockhart, 43, is accused of concealing her mother’s death after Miriam Lynn Lockhart’s body was found at a residence on the 1700 block on Tobacco Road in Augusta, Georgia.

Authorities responded to a 911 call at the house after reports of a "suspicious situation" around 4 p.m. on June 3, according to the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office. Melissa Lockhart was found injured, with a broken right knee, inside the home. While on-scene, investigators learned of a possible recent death at the residence. A freshly dug grave containing a woman’s remains was later found in the rear of the home, according to an incident report obtained by Oxygen.com.

Melissa Lockhart was transported to Augusta University Medical Center for evaluation. She later told detectives the woman’s body belonged to her elderly mother, Miriam, who passed away days earlier. She said her mother had died in bed over Memorial Day Weekend.

Under questioning, Melissa Lockhart admitted she found her mother unresponsive on either May 31 or June 1, according to authorities.

The woman said she buried Miriam Lockhart in the backyard without notifying authorities because she didn’t want to be separated from her mother. She also said she didn’t want her mother to be “cut” or undergo an autopsy, according to the incident report.

The mother and daughter reportedly lived at the home together. Melissa Lockhart was her primary caretaker, authorities said.

The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office is now awaiting autopsy results to verify Miriam Lockhart’s identity. 

“The body has not been officially identified, but we believe it is going to be her mom,” Lt. Glen Rahn told Oxygen.com on Tuesday. “Officially though we can not say that until it is positively identified.”

Her cause or manner of death haven’t been released. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation performed an autopsy on Miriam Lockhart in Decatur, Georgia on Monday. A spokesperson for the agency declined to disclose the autopsy results or comment on the case on Tuesday.

However, records show that authorities had previously been dispatched to the Lockharts’ home.

In February, deputies responded to the house, and found Miriam Lockhart experiencing breathing difficulties. She subsequently told law enforcement she was "scared" her daughter may “hit or kill her,” according to a separate police incident report obtained by Oxygen.com. The elderly woman  said she was immobile and hadn’t been outside the home in years. 

Melissa Lockhart denied abusing her mother. First responders never found evidence of visible injuries on either Melissa or Miriam Lockhart. The incident was referred to Adult Protective Services. The agency didn't immediately respond to Oxygen.com's questions about the matter on Tuesday.

Melissa Lockhart was booked into a Richmond County jailhouse, according to online jail records. She’s being held on a $5,700 bond related to charges of concealing her mother’s death. She hasn’t been formally charged. It’s unclear if she’s retained legal counsel.

In May, Melissa Lockhart was arrested for harassing communication, according to the Richmond County Clerk’s Office. A state bench warrant was also issued against her for failing to appear in court in connection to the incident. She is also charged with a probation violation. 

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