Northern California man suspected of living with his dead roommate for 4 years and forging his checks

Photo of Darren Pirtle
Darren Wade Pirtle, 57, was charged with one count of identity theft and 10 counts of check forgery, according to the Butte County district attorney’s office.
(Chico Police Department)

A Chico man suspected of living with the body of his dead roommate for four years has been charged with forging checks to himself on the dead man’s account, according to the Butte County district attorney’s office.

Darren Wade Pirtle, 57, appeared Monday in Butte County Superior Court and was charged with one count of identity theft and 10 counts of check forgery. Since 2019, Pirtle allegedly forged about 50 checks to himself from the account of his deceased roommate, 64-year-old Kevin Olson, according to prosecutors.

Olson was reported missing in August, after a relative claimed they had not heard from him in nearly four years, Butte County Dist. Atty. Mike Ramsey said in a news release. Despite relatives not hearing from Olson, his retirement checks continued to deposit into his account monthly, and the mortgage for his home continued to be paid.

A woman says she continued to live with her mother’s body in Petaluma after she died over a year ago and did not tell anyone, according to police.

Aug. 24, 2022

Olson’s relatives told police they had been trying to contact him since 2018, but only ever spoke with Pirtle, who “gave various excuses as to Olson’s absences.” A Chico police officer contacted Pirtle, the D.A.’s office said, but he told police that Olson was “out of town.”

Last week, police served a search warrant at the home Olson shared with Pirtle, located in the 2600 block of Burnap Avenue, where his body was found in the back bedroom. Officials believe Olson died in 2018, according to Ramsey. An autopsy is underway.

Police did not provide more details on how the body was kept.

Pirtle is being held on $165,000 bail and is expected to return to court Thursday.

Randall Freer, who died last month in Jackson, Calif., is suspected of leaving his father’s body in a recliner in order to collect his funds, authorities said Thursday.

Aug. 18, 2022