An elderly Indiana man was found dead last month on his living room floor nearly nine months after he originally passed away, during which time his wife continued to live in their home with his body.
Tippecanoe County, Ind. Coroner Donna Avolt told USA Today that Gerald Francis Gavan Jr., 88, died more than nine months before his body was discovered May 3 near the front door of his home. Avolt said authorities will testify that Gavan’s date of death was at least July 15.
Neighbors told the Associated Press that Gerald Gavan’s wife lived in the home during that time and acted as if everything was normal.
“It’s really disturbing, the fact that we’ve been living here the whole time and talking to her,” Tyler Imel told the AP. Imel moved in next door to Gavan’s home in August, according to The Lafayette Journal & Courier.
Ila Solomon, Gavan’s wife and live-in caretaker, appeared to carry on as if nothing was unusual, and later claimed Gavan didn't die until April 28, when he suffered a small stroke.
According to USA Today, Solomon said a foul odor forced her to sleep in the house she owns next door during the five days she claims Gavan lay dead on the living room floor. She declined to disclose why she didn't report the man’s death to authorities, citing instructions from police detectives.
According to Indianapolis NBC affiliate WTHR, Lafayette Police said they are looking at financial records to see if Gavan's wife received pension or other payments after his death. While no criminal charges have been filed, police are treating his death as a homicide, according to standard practice in unusual deaths.