Authorities think an elderly New Franklin woman whose decomposed body was found Friday by police may have been killed, but said it could take weeks to determine the cause of her death.

“We’re treating this as a homicide and investigating it” as one, New Franklin police detective Michael Hitchings said Tuesday of the death of 87-year-old Donna Melhorn.

Last Friday, a relative stopped by the New Franklin police station and asked officers to do a welfare check on Melhorn at her home in the 4700 block of Manchester Road, near Portage Lakes State Park.

Inside Melhorn’s home, officers found her body and called the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. On Friday, New Franklin police said the death was suspicious.

On Monday, Gary Guenther, chief investigator for the medical examiner, said “foul play is suspected.”

Guenther said Tuesday it could be weeks before the medical examiner’s office gets results of toxicology and other tests.

The advanced decomposition of the body is a complicating factor, he said. “It’s just going to take extra time to process everything."

He said the body appears to have been in the home for “an extended period of time.”

Melhorn apparently had lived in the home alone for some time, authorities said. It does not appear she had any children.

Melhorn’s body was found in a bedroom of the ramshackle house.

Hitchings declined to say where her body was in the bedroom or provide any details about the body because of the ongoing investigation. He also said he could not provide information about the relative who asked police to do the welfare check.

 

Reach Katie Byard at 330-996-3781 or kbyard@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her @KatieByardABJ on Twitter or on Facebook.