Deputy Coroner Arrested for Stealing $400 in Gift Cards From Dead Woman

A deputy coroner has been arrested on accusations she stole gift cards from the body of a woman who had committed suicide.

Investigators arrested Richmond County Deputy Coroner Charlena Graham on Wednesday. She has been charged with a felony count of theft by taking.

Graham, 43, has also been fired from the coroner's office, where she worked for about four years, officials said.

"I was aware of the investigation," Richmond County Coroner Grover Tuten said. "I knew it was going on, and I cooperated with it and we cleaned our house."

Authorities went into a motel room on Dec. 31 after getting reports of gunshots, a Richmond County sheriff's report said. In the room, deputies found a 29-year-old woman dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

A handgun was in the woman's hand and a handwritten note lay nearby, the report says.

Shortly after, all personal items from woman were turned over to Graham, including five gift cards for Macy's, Target, Victoria's Secret and a local steak house, according to Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength.

Authorities later learned from family members of the deceased woman that some gift cards might have been missing, Strength said.

Sheriff's Lt. Jack Francisco said the total value of the gift cards was about $400.

Investigators have recovered evidence, including tapes of Graham using the gift cards at local stores, Sheriff Strength said.