Family of dead veteran angry that body was in home for months while others allegedly stole benefits

Veterans Affairs starting to plan dignified burial
Posted at 5:16 PM, Mar 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-23 17:32:59-04

Relatives of Bob Harris are furious that his decomposing body was left in a Tuscarawas County home for several months while the family living there allegedly stole the veteran's social security benefits.

Harris would have turned 72 on March 22.

"It's disgusting. I don't think I'll ever get closure," said the vet's brother, Larry Harris from Alliance.

RELATED: Family accused of stealing dead veteran's social security money while living in home with his body

Bob Harris served in the army during the Vietnam War and was awarded the Purple Heart after he was wounded and the Bronze Star for bravery, but his death — more than 4 months ago — was not treated with dignity.

On Tuesday, Tuscarawas County investigators found the skeletal remains of the veteran in the living room of a Wainwright home that reeked of garbage.

The badly decomposing body was uncovered, lying in the open and only feet from where some of the residents slept.

Lt. Jeff Moore believes the vet had been dead since at least last Thanksgiving. The house has since been condemned by the health department.

"My God, what kind of people could do this? I couldn't do that to a squirrel or a snake."

Detectives said Brian Sorohan, 49, and Stacy Sorohan, 45, continued to live in the home on 4th Street, along with their 18-year-old daughter, Brianna Sorohan.

All three were charged with gross abuse of a corpse and failure to report a death.

Brian and Stacy Sorohan are also charged with theft, accused of using Harris' debit card to steal his social security benefits while the body was decomposing in the home.

Lt. Moore said Stacy Sorohan was caught on ATM cameras using the card to withdraw cash.

"Who could do that knowing he was a veteran and treat a veteran like that? They're thieves, disgusting and inhumane," Larry said.

The case has also outraged officials with Veterans Affairs.

The Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman is now working with the Harris family and believes the veteran should be eligible for a free dignified burial.

"I just know I have a duty and an honor and an obligation to take care of veterans especially in a situation like this," said Matt Metschke, the cemetery director.

Larry told News 5 that his brother struggled with emotional and social issues after he returned from Vietnam. Larry said he last spoke Bob a few years ago, and since he wandered to different places, the family wasn't aware where he was.

"He wouldn't tell us," Larry said. I can't imagine why he was even there."

The Harris family does not know the Sorohans, but Larry said he wants them to get the maximum penalty possible if they're convicted.

"Nobody deserves this. Nobody. I don't care who you are. You would not deserve that," he said.