Police in Utah say they’re “eagerly” awaiting a medical examiner’s official report to help them figure out how an elderly man whose body was found in the freezer of his wife’s retirement home died.
The body was discovered Friday when police conducting a welfare check on the woman, Jeanne Sourone-Mathers, 75, at her home in a retirement village in Tooele, about 25 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, Tooele police Sgt. Jeremy Hansen told NBC affiliate KSL of Salt Lake City.
Sourone-Mathers was found dead on her bed, Hansen said, and her death wasn’t considered suspicious. But as they investigated further, they opened a freezer in a utility room — and discovered a man’s frozen body, he said.
Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.
Police said Tuesday that the body had been identified as that of Paul Edward Mathers, 69, who was Sourone-Mathers’ husband. They said he may have been in the freezer as little as a year and a half or as long as 11 years.
Investigators believe Sourone-Mathers knew her husband’s body was in her freezer, and “we strongly suspect foul play,” Hansen told KSL.
But “right now, we can’t officially call it a homicide investigation because we don’t know if that is what it is,” he said. “That’s why we’re eagerly waiting for the medical examiner and their findings, and we’ll go from there.”
Download the NBC News app for breaking news
Sourone-Mathers, who neighbors said used a wheelchair, moved into the apartment in December 2007, Hansen said, and her husband’s name was on the lease with hers.
Hansen said that no missing persons report was ever filed for Mathers and that investigators were going through documents to try to figure out the last time he was seen.
“When we started talking to different people in different apartments that surround hers, they all recall seeing a guy there, but everyone’s time frame was different,” he said. “So one person would say eight years, and another person would say five years, four years.
“So the more people we talked to, the bigger the scale got as to the last time any guy was seen there at the apartment,” he said.