An Illinois wife found the mummified corpse of her husband buried in a closet at their home – eight months after she reported him missing.
Richard Maedge, 53, was first reported missing on April 27, 2022, and police searched the home he shared with his wife, Jennifer, in Troy at least twice to try and find him. Both times cops reported smelling a ‘sewer-like’ smell inside the house, which they described as a ‘hoarder home’.
It wasn’t until December 11, eight months after Richard’s disappearance, that Jennifer stumbled upon his body while looking for Christmas decorations hanging in a rarely-visited, concealed storage area inside a closet in the bedroom.
Coroners released a report on Thursday indicating Richard had died by suicide and that his body had passed the stage of decomposition and become mummified by the time he was discovered.
The police coroner told KTVI that mummified bodies don’t give off odours, which may have helped Richard go undiscovered for so long. Jennifer told Troy police Richard vanished on April 27, 2022, after he called her to say he was leaving work early.
When she got home, she found Richard’s car parked out front and his keys and wallet in the house, but he was nowhere to be seen.
Police began searching for the father of three, initially doing a pass through the crowded house.
They reported the foul smell inside but decided Richard wasn’t there. Sometime later, Jennifer called the police to report that the odour remained, and police returned to search the home again but turned up nothing.
Finally, Jennifer contacted a plumber about the smell, who visited the house and said it smelled like sewer gas, according to KTVI. The plumber capped one of the sewer pipes at the house, and Jennifer reported the odour subsided.
Jennifer finally discovered Richard on December 11, and told police she found his body while looking for a bag full of Christmas decorations. Police said the closet Richard was ultimately found in was in a concealed location in the house. ‘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,’ Jennifer told the Belleville News-Democrat.
Richard’s sister, Marilyn Toliver, spoke out against the police department and said they could have done more to find him.
In response, the Troy police released an exhaustive list of the measures they took to find Richard, which included extensive searches of the property surrounding area. Jennifer, however, thanked the police for their work.
‘Even though we didn’t want the outcome that we had, it’s still an outcome that we can put him to rest,’ she told Fox 2.
She added that she felt her husband’s presence was close to her while he was missing.
Police said they suspect no foul play in Richard’s death. ‘There were no other injuries found during the autopsy examination, or evidence found that would indicate anything nefarious regarding Mr. Maedge’s death,’ the coroner said.