Former York County woman accused of killing husband indicted federally for Social Security fraud

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

A widow charged in York County with the homicide of her Dover Township husband has now been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly collecting his Social Security payments for six years while he was missing.

Virginia L. Hayden, 69, most recently of Palms Court in South Middleton Township in Cumberland County, remains in York County Prison without bail, charged with first-degree murder, plus multiple counts of forgery, theft by deception, tampering with evidence and conspiracy.

Hayden is accused of killing her husband, Thomas Hayden Sr., who went missing in 2011. She was arrested and charged in April 2019.

Northern York County Regional Police allege Virginia Hayden gave conflicting accounts of her missing husband's whereabouts and continued collecting his Social Security benefits for years because the agency wasn't notified of his disappearance.

On Feb. 3, a federal grand jury in Harrisburg indicted her on 14 counts of wire fraud and one count of conversion of government funds, related to the alleged theft of those benefits between 2011 and 2017, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Virginia Hayden

Thomas Hayden's Social Security checks were automatically deposited in an account he jointly held with his wife, who illegally collected $113,471, her indictment states.

The indictment states Virginia Hayden "shall forfeit to the United States of America any property, real or personal, which constitutes or is derived from proceeds traceable to the offenses."

Federal court records don't list an attorney in her case. The defense attorney in her murder case, Brian Platt, could not be reached for comment.

The murder case: In her York County case, police allege Virginia Hayden forged her husband's signature on documents including a deed transfer, checks, bank deposit slips and credit card transactions.

On Jan. 18, 2012, a bloody scalp and hair, along with pieces of cloth, were found in a FoodSaver bag along the 4200 block of Conewago Road in Dover Township.

At the time, police ran a DNA sample in their system but didn't find a match.

The remains were identified in 2017 as being Thomas Hayden's, based on DNA samples provided by Hayden's two brothers, police have said.

Police said they started looking into his disappearance in January 2017 after his daughter, Kim Via, requested they check on his welfare. The daughter had been estranged from her father since 2005 and believed he was still living with his wife, police said.

Via told investigators that when she would call to speak with her father, Virginia Hayden would tell her he didn't want to talk with her, police said, and she then hired a private investigator who was unable to find her father.

None of Thomas Hayden's friends or family members recalled seeing him or hearing from him since the fall of 2011.

Found ID in lock box: Virginia Hayden lived with her granddaughter in the Carlisle area after leaving Dover Township, and the granddaughter told investigators in 2017 that she hadn't seen Thomas Hayden since 2010 or 2011 and that when her grandmother moved out, she found Thomas Hayden's driver's license, passport and Social Security card in Virginia Hayden's lock box.

Testimony from Virginia Hayden's preliminary hearing indicates she told a former Dover Township neighbor that her husband had died after traveling to Mexico to be treated for his ALS.

She told Northern Regional investigators in 2017 that her husband left for Mexico sometime in late 2011, gave differing accounts of how he left and said she didn't know where he was, according to police.

Gun purchased: On Oct. 4, 2011, shortly before her husband disappeared, Virginia Hayden bought a .357-caliber handgun from a York County gun dealer, according to court documents. She later told police she sold the gun, but there are no government records to confirm that, police said.

At her preliminary hearing, forensic pathologist Dr. Wayne Ross testified he examined the remains and determined the scalp had been removed with a knife or similar object

He said that microscopic bone particles found with the remains could only have been caused by a gunshot wound, and that the "tremendous amount of blood" found with the remains indicate Thomas Hayden suffered a traumatic injury.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.