The wife of Roman Leimer, the Burtonsville man who at first was believed killed in a fiery truck crash but now is presumed missing, sought permission yesterday from the Montgomery County Circuit Court to take legal control of her husband's business and other assets.
Antonia Leimer said she was in legal limbo because authorities had refused to issue a death certificate for her husband. A Smithsonian Institution anthropologist, called in by authorities after Leimer's gasoline truck burned on Jan. 13, found that the charred remains in the truck were not Leimer's but those of a pig.
Last week authorities in Warren County, Va., where the crash occurred, officially listed Leimer, 39, as missing and were expected to list the fire as arson, according to police sources.
In the court petition, Antonia Leimer asked to be named "guardian" of her husband's fledgling wine business, Romax Inc., and his other assets. Generally, such a petition is filed when a person becomes incapacitated and cannot properly handle his financial affairs, but it can be used in instances of disappearance, according to Mrs. Leimer's attorney, Richard Paugh.
"This does not mean we're conceding that he's alive and absent," said Paugh. "But there is no other way under Maryland's rules to proceed."
The court petition declares that Leimer "died in a truck accident on Rte. 66, in Front Royal, Va.," and that "within hours of the fire the accident scene was completely cleared and washed down."
The petition also alleges that the investigation into the crash was begun "two weeks after the accident," and that by that time the scene of the accident had been "disturbed, disrupted and destroyed."
"We don't know if there were any remains of Leimer or not," Paugh said yesterday.
However, Warren County prosecutor David Crump said last week that arson investigators determined there were no human beings in the truck.
If the court grants Antonia Leimer's request, she will be able to continue operating her husband's wine importing business, but would need court permission for any major financial decisions, such as selling her husband's assets. Leimer, according to documents filed previously in court, owed thousands of dollars to at least two creditors.