Charges against man accused of placing grandmother in barrel head to Bedford grand jury

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BEDFORD, Va. (WDBJ7) The woman whose remains were found rotting in a barrel in Bedford County a few months ago may have been dead for nearly a year before she was discovered by deputies.

That's just one of the new details we learned in court today as the woman's grandson, who's accused of putting his grandmother in the barrel, went before a judge for a preliminary hearing.

Shortly after deputies found a rapidly decaying body in a steel drum on Trapper Lane in Vinton back in April of 2016, Robert Wazniak was taken to the Bedford County Sheriff's Office for a recorded interview.

Wozniak told detectives that his grandmother, Betty Wozniak, died in June or July of 2015. He said she died of natural causes, possibly a heart attack, but he didn't call 911 because his home was in disrepair and he didn't want to get in trouble.

Wozniak told investigators that he initially placed his grandmother in a freezer. He admitted to moving twice after his grandmother died and, both times, he transported her in the freezer.

Investigators say Wozniak told them he considered burying his grandmother in a hole outside the house he was renting on Trapper Lane, but he couldn't bring himself to do it so he placed her body in a barrel instead.

Investigators located bank statements that indicate money was taken from Betty Wozniak's checking account after her grandson said she would have died. They believe Robert Wozniak withdrew hundreds of dollars to cover his grandmother's medical bills, and pay for his own groceries and rent.

Wozniak is charged with four felony counts of obtaining money under false pretenses and one felony count of disposing of a body with malicious intent to avoid detection. Judge Stephanie Maddox certified all charges to a grand jury Monday afternoon.

If certified by a grand jury, Wozniak's case will head to trial in Bedford County Circuit Court. He remains in jail as he awaits the outcome of his case.