Judge orders mental evaluation of woman accused of dismembering roommate

Nancy Bentley, 54, stands during her Jan. 23 bond hearing on charges of obstructing justice and desecration of human remains.

A Summerville woman accused of dismembering her roommate's body will be hospitalized for a mental evaluation, according to court records.

Last week a judge ordered the evaluation for Nancy Bentley, 54, who is charged with desecration of human remains and obstruction of justice, court records stated.

She was ordered to be transferred from the Dorchester County jail to the G. Werber Bryan Psychiatric Hospital in Columbia, according to court records.

The order was in response to a request by Bentley's attorney, 1st Circuit Public Defender Mark Leiendecker, asking the judge to set bail.

Circuit Judge Kristi Harrington wanted further evaluation before making a ruling on setting bail for Bentley, according to Leiendecker.

Bentley has remained in custody since her arrest in January. She has told police she is bipolar and taking several medications, according to an incident report.

Bentley used a camping-style folding saw to remove her roommate's legs from his body before she stuffed the parts into black trash bags, according to a warrant by Summerville police.

Roy Allen Steward, 54, already was dead when Bentley cut his legs off and attempted to remove his head and arms, the warrant stated. Steward had been dead at least two days, according to the warrant.

Summerville Police Department authorities, however, have not said exactly how Steward died. Dorchester County Coroner Chris Nisbet said he is awaiting toxicology exam results from the State Law Enforcement Division.

Nisbet said Steward died Jan. 2, a few weeks before his brother in Texas had reported him missing. The man hadn't spoken to his brother since Christmas and was concerned about him so he called police, according to a police report.

When police checked on Steward's whereabouts Jan. 14 at the Bacons Bridge mobile home he and Bentley shared, he had already been dead for two weeks, according to his time of death.

Bentley dismembered Steward in the home between Jan. 3 and Jan. 18, according to the warrant.

Police made the discovery Jan. 21 when they found the trash bags in the trunk of the vehicle she'd been driving, which had been towed following a traffic stop the previous Saturday, police said.

Reach Natalie Caula Hauff at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.