While searching for Christmas decorations, Jennifer Maedge found the body of her missing husband in a closet at her home. Richard Maedge was found deceased in his home 8 months after being reported missing by his wife. An autopsy report released by Madison County Coroner Steve Nonn reveals that Richard died by suicide.
He was reported missing on April 27, 2022 yet despite initial searches of the home, no trace of Richard was found. The residence was described as a “hoarder home,” and police noticed a “sewer-like” odor during their search. The odor persisted, and the family contacted a plumber who placed a cap on one of the sewer pipes in the basement, which seemed to eliminate the odor at the residence.
It was only in December 2022 that Jennifer found her husband’s body inside a concealed closet while retrieving Christmas decorations. Richard’s body was mummified, which explained why it took so long for him to be found. The autopsy showed no further injuries and no foul play was involved in his death.
“I know it may sound odd,” Jennifer tells PEOPLE. “I was just trying to figure out the best way to celebrate the holidays without knowing the whereabouts of my husband. I had been contemplating that for weeks before I decided to put up some Christmas decorations, to put me more in the Christmas spirit and to honor my husband, in a way.”
Mummification occurs when the deceased body is exposed to an environment with low humidity or moisture content. In a home closet, especially in a dry climate or with controlled humidity levels, the air lacks the moisture necessary for the growth and activity of odor-producing bacteria. Without sufficient moisture, these bacteria cannot thrive and decompose the body, thereby preventing the release of unpleasant odors.
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