EAST VANDERGRIFT (KDKA) — A man has been charged with abuse of a corpse, identity theft and fraud in connection with the death of his father, a disabled war veteran.

The man’s body was found this morning inside of a home on the 300-block of Kennedy Avenue in East Vandergrift.

It was discovered in a 55-gallon drum. Officials say the body belonged to 59-year-old Dave Thomas.

Police say a neighbor called police initially asking them to check on Thomas. When they arrived at the house, they were greeted by Thomas’ 31-year-old son of the same name. The two lived together in the house.

Authorities say he told them he had not see his father in days.

He took them to the basement and showed them the barrel.

Police say the younger Thomas was using his father’s bank card to access his bank accounts. Court papers show he may have used his father’s card to buy the barrel Thomas was found in.

“I just can’t believe something like that would happen in East Vandergrift,” said former mayor Mary Anuszek. “Because this is such a small town and everybody cares about each other.”

Anuszek lives across the train tracks from Thomas.

“I just knew him a little but,” said another neighbor, “just to see him passing by, he did a lot of walking, unless I seen him going to church.”

The younger Thomas was taken in for questioning at the Vandergrift Police Station earlier in the day. He is currently in jail on a $55,000 bond.

Police would not say what the younger Thomas told them when he showed them the barrel and pulled the top off.

An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday morning. Thomas could face new charges depending on the outcome of the autopsy.

Stay with KDKA for Brenda Waters’ full report on this story.

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