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Woman lived with mother’s dead body for years

‘You certainly wouldn’t pop over for a cup of tea. I guess you could describe them as odd,’ says neighbour

Tom Embury-Dennis
Thursday 22 March 2018 14:49 GMT
It took teams of police four days to find the human remains of Gaynor Jones
It took teams of police four days to find the human remains of Gaynor Jones (Wales News Service)

An obsessive hoarder’s dead mother was found buried under a mountain of clutter at the 19th century stone cottage they shared in west Wales.

The remains of Gaynor Jones, 87, were only uncovered when police attended the property to check on her daughter Valerie Jones.

Concerned neighbours had raised the alarm about Valerie, who is in her 50s, after they had not seen her for a few days. Officers found her collapsed under mounds of papers.

It took police teams another four days to find the decomposed human remains of her widowed mother in another part of the cottage in Aberaeron.

Officers worked their way through huge piles of hoarded possessions. Skips were required to dispose of the clutter.

Neighbours believe her daughter had been sharing the house with her dead mother for “many months or even years”.

Severely dehydrated, Valerie was taken to Bronglais Hospital in Aberystwyth in a “poorly condition” from the “heavily cluttered” cottage, which had reportedly been in the family for generations.

Neighbours said the mother and daughter were “well known” but “odd” and rarely left their old stone home.

One woman said: “I think the mother was born there herself, so the cottages have been in her family’s hands for about a century.

Police were called after the alarm was raised by concerned neighbours (Wales News Service)

“They were well known, not for being seen about, but as the old Welsh family who kept themselves to themselves. They were very reclusive. You certainly wouldn’t pop over for a cup of tea. I guess you could describe them as odd.”

The Joneses were said to be mainly Welsh speakers and rarely mixed with elderly English neighbours who had moved into to the quiet country town.

One neighbour said he had not seen the women in four years.

Another said: “They are a well-known Aberaeron family who keep themselves to themselves and certainly do not seem to welcome visitors. Valerie is a single woman who has been living alone with her mother since her father passed away several years ago. What has happened there is all a bit of a mystery.”

Local county councillor Elizabeth Evans said she had known Ms Jones and her daughter all her life.

“The most important thing at the moment is that Valerie is safe and in hospital,” she said.

Their home is the first of three stone buildings known as the Dolheulog Cottages, believed to have been built in the late 19th century.

It was so dilapidated and cluttered that a website giving a history of Welsh ruins stated it was abandoned in 2016.

A biography on said: “Three cottages, all now empty or ruined. Number 1 I believe was lived in until quite recently, the middle one has recently been purchased, the land cleared away and the third and smallest is still filled with personal belongings and is much ruined and damp.”

A police spokesperson said: “Dyfed-Powys Police received a report concerning the welfare of two women from the Aberaeron area. On police attendance at the property one female was taken to hospital. Following a search of the property the remains of a body have been found. The death is currently being treated as unexplained.”

Police say Ceredigion coroner Peter Brunton has been informed and an inquest is due to be opened.

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