Wife finds husband’s mummified remains in closet of their home eight months after reporting him missing

‘I was looking for a tote of Christmas ornaments, and that’s when I discovered him,’ wife says

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Wednesday 08 March 2023 06:41 GMT
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Related video: Suicide Prevention Week: Suicide survivor & victim’s family member speaks out

An Illinois woman found her missing husband in the closet of their home after he had been missing for almost eight months.

Jennifer Maedge reported her husband Richard Maedge missing on 27 April last year. Police searched the home in Troy, Illinois, and investigated his disappearance but he wasn’t found until 11 December when Ms Maedge found his remains in a closet in the home as she went to get some Christmas decorations.

The husband died by suicide, according to a coroner’s report.

“I decided to put the Christmas tree up, and I was looking for a tote of Christmas ornaments, and that’s when I discovered him,” the wife told The St Louis Post-Dispatch in December. “He had committed suicide.”

Ms Maedge told police that she last spoke to her husband the day before she reported him missing. He had called her to say he was leaving work early, but when she got home, he wasn’t there, but his car was parked at the home and his keys and wallet were still there.

When police searched the home, they found no signs of his whereabouts.

Kelly Rogers, the chief deputy coroner in the county, said police had said the home was that of a “hoarder,” according to Fox 59.

Law enforcement noticed a “sewer-like” smell at the house when conducting their search. Ms Maedge called the police again later to report an odour in the home. Police searched the home again and found that the smell was the same but didn’t find any signs of the husband.

Jennifer Maedge found her husband, who had been missing since April, dead in their closet after eight months (Screenshot / Fox 2 St Louis)

The family got in touch with a plumber, who said the smell was similar to that of sewer gas, the deputy coroner said. The plumber put a cap on a sewer pipe in the basement, which appeared to get rid of the smell.

Ms Maedge found her husband’s remains on 11 December last year, telling police that she had gone to a concealed closet to get Christmas decorations and found her husband’s body inside.

The deputy coroner told KTVI that the husband’s body has moved beyond decomposition and was now in a mummified state, something which occurs when the fluids dry up or are removed from the skin.

Ms Rogers added that a body which has reached this state may not smell much, which would be a reason why Mr Maedge remained missing for so long.

No foul play is suspected in his passing, the autopsy found.

If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.

If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The Helpline is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.

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