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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Woman Looking for Christmas Decor Found Missing Husband's Mummified Body - Cause of Death Revealed

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Last year, Jennifer Maedge of Troy, Illinois, made a call that no one wants to make. On April 27, she reported that her husband was missing.

Richard Maedge, 53, had seemingly disappeared into thin air. His keys, wallet and car were at home, but for months he was nowhere to be found, KTVI-TV reported.

The day before he went missing, he’d called his wife and said he was leaving work early. That was apparently the last time she heard his voice.

Over the next few months, a number of disconcerting observations were made in the home.

Police noticed a “sewer-like” odor inside the house and described the residence as a “hoarder home,” according to KTVI.

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Later, Jennifer called the police again to report an odd smell, but when officers entered the home, the odor seemed the same as before. At some point, a visiting family member complained not only of the terrible smell but of an unusual number of flies present in the home.

Eventually, a plumber was called and identified the odor as sewer gas coming up from a pipe in the basement. He capped the pipe, and the smell seemed to vanish.

Then, on Dec. 11, Jennifer made a harrowing discovery while looking for Christmas decorations in a storage area under a stairway.

Jennifer found her husband’s mummified body.

While the discovery was deeply disturbing, the family has some peace now. Jennifer told KTVI that even though Richard was gone, she sensed his presence.

“He will be deeply missed,” she said. “Even though we didn’t want the outcome that we had, it’s still an outcome that we can, you know, put him to rest.”

A cause of death was not immediately shared, though there was no mention of suspected foul play, either.

On Thursday, Madison County Coroner Steve Nonn released a report stating that Richard died by suicide, according to KTVI.

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Some in the family believe the police department did a terrible job and should be held accountable for failing to locate Richard’s body.

Richard’s brother-in-law, Van Toliver, voiced his concerns during a city council meeting in December.

“I just find it unfathomable to see how a police department failed this badly,” Toliver said, according to the Times-Tribune.

“I talked to Jenn, his spouse, and she said that detectives never searched the house; it was patrol cops. … Me and my wife have called on numerous occasions complaining about the odor coming from the house and the flies.”

Troy Police Chief Brent Shownes responded to the criticism by providing a list of actions taken to try to find Richard, including searches of the home using a tracking K-9 and several cadaver dogs, reviewing surveillance footage from neighbors, and following up on over 30 tips, the Belleville News-Democrat reported.

Jennifer has said she is satisfied with the measures the police took and would like to move on and grieve the loss of her husband.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking