Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Widow aims to get bodies returned

Jean Stevens holds a photograph from the 1940s of herself and her late husband, James (AP)
Jean Stevens holds a photograph from the 1940s of herself and her late husband, James (AP)

A US widow looks set to be reunited with the dead bodies of the two people she loved so much that after they died she still wanted them to keep her company at home.

Jean Stevens, 91, who lived with the embalmed bodies of her husband and twin sister until authorities found out and took them away, is hopeful they will be returned soon.

Workmen at Mrs Stevens' rural property outside the northern Pennsylvania town of Wyalusing have been constructing a gabled building with gray siding and a white door. It resembles an oversized shed but in reality it's a mausoleum for Mrs Stevens' husband of nearly 60 years, James, and her twin, June.

Authorities have told her it is the only way she can get them back - and she can't wait.

She said the coroner "has them up there in the cold box, which makes me shiver. He says, 'They're all right, Jean, you don't have to worry about them'."

Mrs Stevens had their bodies dug up shortly after they died - James in 1999, June in 2009 - because she couldn't bear not being able to see them again.

She kept her husband on a couch in the garage and her sister in a spare room off the bedroom, where "I could touch her and look at her and talk to her," Mrs Stevens said.

Bradford County authorities, who have been storing the bodies in a mortuary since they took them away in June, have told Mrs Stevens she can have them back if she builds an above ground vault.

Coroner Tom Carman said he plans to release them once it's finished. "I want to get Jimmy and June back to her just as soon as I possibly can," he said.

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