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Widow Lived With Corpses Of Husband and Twin Sister

Posted Jul 07 2010 6:49am

Police in Wyalusing, Pennsylvania are still investigating a bizarre case in which a 91-year old widow was found to be sharing her home with the preserved corpses of her husband and twin sister.  After her husband of 60 years, James Stevens, died in 1999, his widow Jean had his embalmed corpse dug up so it could be stored in her home.  When her sister, June, died last October, Jean had the body buried in her backyard where she then had it dug up so she could store it in her home as well.  Police were finally tipped last month and the corpses are now with the Bradford County coroner's office, and off limits to the woman who loved them both.

In describing her reasons for her actions, Jean Stevens stated that, "Death is very hard for me to take".  Being agnostic, she had difficulty with the idea that death would be final which made it extremely difficult for her to accept the deaths of her husband and sister.  She also stated that she suffers from claustrophobia (and so did her sister).  Feeling horrified that her loved ones would spend eternity in a casket in the ground inspired her to her extreme action.  When she had her husband's corpse exhumed within days of his burial, she kept him on a couch in the detached garage. 

After her sister, June, died of cancer, she had the body exhumed "so I could touch her, look at her and talk to her".  She dressed the corpse in her "best housecoat" and kept in on an old couch in a spare room near her bedroom.  She applied makeup and tried her best to make the corpse as it appeared in life and also sprayed it with perfume to mask the odour.  Jean stated that she often enjoyed talking to both corpses much as she had when they had been alive. 

It is not immediately clear who contacted authorities although Jean Stevens suspects one of her husband's relatives.  She described the action of calling in the police as "dirty, rotten".  Neighbours who had helped her care for her lawn and took her grocery shopping had either not known or not told about her macabre secret.  She is now investigating the possibility of building a crypt on her property so that the bodies might be returned to her.

No charges have been laid to date but police are still preparing their findings for a final determination to be made.  She may be charged with misdemeanor abuse of a corpse and violation of state provisions regulating the disinterment of corpses.

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