Man lived with dead roommate for years and stole his identity, California officials say

Miami Herald File

A man is accused of living with the body of his dead roommate for four years while stealing the man’s identity and money, California prosecutors said.

Darren Wade Pirtle, 57, of Chico is facing charges of “identity theft and multiple counts of forgery for writing from the account” of his dead roommate, Kevin Olson, 64, according to a Sept. 26 news release from the Butte County District Attorney’s office.

Police began an investigation in August 2022 after a relative of Olson told them they had not seen or heard from him in about four years, according to the release. The relative said Pirtle “always gave various excuses” as to where Olson was.

Police determined that no one had seen Olson since October 2018.

Meanwhile, Olson’s monthly retirement checks from the U.S. Navy continued to be deposited directly to his credit union account. And his monthly home mortgage continued to be paid.

Since July 2019, about 50 checks had been written to Pirtle from the account, according to prosecutors. After comparing Olson’s writing to the signatures on the checks, detectives determined “the checks were not written or signed by Olson.”

When a police officer contacted Pirtle at Olson’s home in Chico, he said Olson was “out of town,” according to prosecutors.

Then, when police served a search warrant at the home last week, “officers located the body of Olson on the floor of what had been his back bedroom,” the release said. Pirtle was still living there.

“Based upon the financial records and the condition of the body, Ramsey said it is believed that Olson died in late 2018,” the release said. “An autopsy to determine the cause of death is pending.”

The roommate was booked into jail on Sept. 21, according to jail records.

His bail was set at $165,000, and he is expected to next appear in court on Sept. 29, according to the district attorney.

Chico is about 85 miles northwest of Sacramento.

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