Coroner explains how wife didn’t notice husband's body in their home for 8 months

A coroner has explained how it was possible for a woman to live in the same house in Illinois as her dead husband's body for eight months without noticing he was there.

Richard Maedge, 53, had been reported missing in April 2022 by his wife Jennifer Maedge, after he called to tell her he would be coming home early from work as he was unwell.

However, when she returned home herself, she found his car on the driveway and his wallet and keys inside, but there was no sign of Richard himself.

Jennifer was set to make a grisly discovery eight months later, when she opened a cluttered closet under the stairs to get her Christmas decorations out, only to find Richard's mummified remains after he took his own life the day he disappeared.

Many have wondered how it took so long for Jennifer to realize that she had been living just inches away from Richard's dead body, given that decomposing flesh usually gives off an overpowering smell.

Jennifer - as well as her neighbors and the police - had complained of a smell emanating from the property, but she says it was never so strong that anyone would put it down to being anything but a blocked sewer, which a plumber even came out to fix.

Part of the reason Richard wasn't found despite police attending the property was because it was described as a "hoarder home" and the vast amounts of things inside made it difficult to do a full search.

Kelly Rogers, the county’s chief deputy coroner, has explained how Jennifer was able to overlook the fact Richard was still in the home, telling KTVI that it was due to the fact that the body had advanced beyond decomposition to a mummified state.

Once a body reaches mummification, the fluids have dried up or been removed from the skin, which means that the body may not have a strong odor.

Jennifer told the St Louis Post-Dispatch of her gruesome discovery at the time: "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. He had committed suicide."

An autopsy carried out on his remains showed no further injuries and no foul play was involved in his death.

Richard's sister Marilyn Toliver had also hit out at police for not finding her brother sooner despite attending the home and reports of an unusual smell.

She told the St Louis Post-Dispatch: "I need answers from the police chief. I need answers from the mayor. How is this even possible?

"Mistakes were made, and I want answers. If it means filing a complaint and going all the way to the governor, I will. I’m not going away. I’m just now beginning to say stuff out loud. I should have been screaming from the beginning, but I was suckered in by the police department saying they were doing their job and looking for him."

Police in Troy, Illinois, responded to say they had undertaken extensive searches at the home and in the surrounding areas in an effort to locate Richard.

The coroner's statement also concluded: "There were no other injuries found during the autopsy examination or evidence found that would indicate anything nefarious regarding Mr Maedge's death."

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