The apartment complex’s maintenance worker grew concerned when his usual correspondence with one of the building’s tenants, 75-year-old Jeanne Souron-Mathers, went unanswered for weeks. So, he called the police.
Authorities found the deceased body of Souron-Mathers the moment they entered the Tooele, Utah, apartment, a discovery that prompted a detective’s subsequent arrival to inspect whether any foul play was involved. What he found shocked him.
“[The detective] started looking around, and opens up a deep freezer and finds an unidentified adult male that is deceased,” Tooele City Police Sgt. Jeremy Hansen told the Salt Lake Tribune.
There, piled into the freezer, was the fully intact body of Souron-Mathers’ husband, military veteran Paul Edward Mathers, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
Fingerprints taken from the freezer-bound corpse confirmed the identity of the veteran, who would have turned 69 years old in November, the report said.
Following a medical examination and interviews with neighbors and friends, who said they had not seen the husband since early 2009, investigators determined the corpse had been occupying the freezer for the last decade.
Imagine the electric bill.
Subpoenas distributed to various financial institutions then revealed Souron-Mathers had been receiving her husband’s benefits checks from the Department of Veterans Affairs since the veteran’s death over 10 years ago.
“The preliminary report indicates that if our time frame is accurate, she would have received more than $157,000 in VA benefits” in the decade since his death, Hansen told the Tribune.
But in a plot twist that could dispel suspicion of foul play, authorities located a handwritten, notarized letter, presumably written by Mathers and dated Dec. 2, 2008, that “says that his wife was not responsible for his death,” Hansen said.
Additionally, investigators learned Mathers had been suffering from a terminal illness around the time of his death.
The letter is being examined by handwriting experts to determine if it is indeed written by the deceased husband.
Police would not release additional contents of the letter, but if it’s authenticated, the devotion of the Mathers couple puts all of us to shame.
Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.