A man who police say kept his partner's corpse in a freezer so he could collect pension checks and an insurance claim is "devoted and loving," his mother said.

William Blakely Richardson died at 76 of an aggressive form of bladder cancer in January 2006, police said.

Since then, authorities allege, his long-time partner, Paul Mahanna, kept his corpse in a freezer in their garage.

Paul's mother, Helen, 87, of Santa Barbara, Calif., said the two were together for 35 years.

"Paul took such extraordinary care of Bill during his illness," she told the Medford Mail Tribune. "They cared so much for each other ... both were wonderful people."

She said she had spoken to her son once since he was jailed, saying he "seemed like himself."

He is charged with identity theft and abuse of a corpse.

Jackson County Medical Examiner Tim Pike said authorities believe Richardson's immediate family members to be dead. He said detectives had tracked down Mahanna's relatives in California, and they seemed to have "embraced William Richardson as one of their own."

The body was put in the freezer shortly after death because it showed almost no signs of decomposition, Pike said.

"It was covered in bags and wrapped in five layers of duct tape," Oregon State Deputy Medical Examiner James Olson said. "It was carefully and meticulously done."