DA: Pennsylvania woman may keep corpses if she builds crypt
Published: Tuesday, July 06, 2010, 4:46 PM Updated: Tuesday, July 06, 2010, 5:42 PM http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2010/07/da_pennsylvania_woman_may_keep.html
Jean Stevens, 91, holds a photograph from the 1940s of herself and her late husband, James, outside her home in Wyalusing, Pa. Authorities say Stevens stored the bodies of her husband, who died in 1999, and her twin, who died in October 2009, on her property. The district attorney is offering to release the bodies to her if she builds a crypt.
WYALUSING, Pa. — A 91-year-old woman found living with the corpses of her husband and twin sister will be allowed to keep them if she installs a mausoleum or crypt, a prosecutor said Tuesday.
Jean Stevens has indicated through her attorney that she plans to build an aboveground vault on her property to store the bodies of James Stevens and June Stevens, according to Bradford County District Attorney Daniel Barrett. “If she does that, the bodies will be released for that purpose,” he said. “Otherwise they will be re-interred.”
Stevens’ attorney, Leslie Wizelman, did not immediately return phone messages left at her office. Stevens previously told The Associated Press that she kept the embalmed remains of her loved ones because she wanted to be able to see them and talk to them. She also said she’s claustrophobic and couldn’t stand the thought of their bodies in caskets in the ground.
State police have been investigating the bizarre case since the corpses were discovered in mid-June. Authorities found the body of James Stevens on a couch in the detached garage and the body of June Stevens on a couch in a spare room off the bedroom.
Stevens had them dug up shortly after they died — James in 1999 and June in October — and tended to their remains at her rural property outside the northern Pennsylvania town of Wyalusing.
Barrett said a decision on charges could be made as early as Friday, after he meets with investigators. He said authorities are looking into several possible violations, including misdemeanor abuse of a corpse. He also cited possible summary violations of the state health code, which regulates how bodies must be disinterred.
“There were some things done here that were not lawful,” he said.
Police haven’t said who retrieved the bodies.
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