Old woman swoops in to steal co-worker's car after he dies, family tells cops

Old woman swoops in to steal co-worker’s car after he dies, family tells cops

CHARLOTTE AMALIE – An old woman was arrested and charged for allegedly removing a vehicle from the yard of a deceased man and driving it around town in defiance of attempts by grieving family members to retrieve their loved one’s property.

Two women presented themselves to the Criminal Investigation Bureau in St. Thomas on May 24. The widow of Elmo Joseph said that her husband passed away last December in Georgia, leaving his vehicles parked on his family’s property in Hospital Ground.

Following the man’s burial, his widow discovered that one of the cars – a black Chevrolet Malibu – had been removed from the property. A family member subsequently informed her that Florence Testamark, who had worked with the deceased doing landscaping and providing trucking services, had taken the vehicle.

Old woman swoops in to steal co-worker's car after he dies, family tells cops

VIPD mug shot of Florence Testamark on St. Thomas.

The family member had seen Testamark driving the Malibu on several occasions. Indeed, she drove it to attend Joseph’s viewing, which sparked a verbal altercation between herself and the dead man’s daughter about the vehicle. That argument resulted in a call to 911 over the issue, police learned.

Days after Joseph’s funeral, Testamark was again confronted by a family member about the vehicle, and claimed that her former work associate had promised her granddaughter the vehicle.

In January of this year, a police officer was approached about the situation. The officer spotted the car parked in Hospital Ground, saw Testamark enter the vehicle, and unsuccessfully tried to stop her from driving off.

On June 2, police spoke to Joseph’s daughter, who lives in Florida. Over the phone, she told them that when her father came to stay with her last November after taking ill, it was Testamark who dropped him at the airport.

He had given her his keys for safekeeping until his return. The daughter told police that her father had instructed her to retrieve the keys from Testamark before he passed away, but that she had thus far been unsuccessful. Several calls went unreturned until she traveled to St. Thomas to prepare for her father’s burial.‌

Upon meeting Testamark in person, the daughter said she asked for her father’s keys, only to be rebuffed. Testamark reportedly said that no keys had been given to her.‌

After trying and failing to reach Testamark, a wanted poster was issued. She was tracked down to the Raphune Hill area on Monday night and arrested. Charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle and buying, receiving or possessing stolen property, she was remanded into custody to await her first court appearance.

Testamark appeared on Wednesday before Magistrate Paula Norkaitis, who set bail at $25,000. She was released ahead of trial upon the payment of 4 percent of her bail requirement in cash. She is now restricted to the St. Thomas/St. John/Water Island district, and must report to the probation office twice a week by telephone.

The next hearing for Testamark is scheduled for June 21.