...as opposed to decomposing on a Wisconsin toilet or on ice in a Wisconsin freezer. Honestly, what is it about this state that encourages people to conceal (or dig up) corpses?
Although the Dane County Coroner, John Stanley, believes she died of natural causes, he can't even tell how long she's been dead, so that doesn't exactly inspire confidence in his professional opinion. He works in a city with a major research university; can't he find an entomologist who can tell him how many generations of cockroaches have been feasting on human flesh in that garage?
And the County's mental health and social services also seem to have fallen down on the job. On July 17, a mental health worker went to the house to ask after the missing woman. The woman's nephew was already known to have under-treated schizophrenia. The mental health worker noticed a terrible stench coming from the basement; she did not go down there. That was wise; it's not her job to investigate a potential chamber of horrors. However, she presumably reported her observations to the proper authorities.
The man's mother (the dead woman's sister) had recently been removed from the home, partly because of the filthy conditions, and partly because of alleged elder abuse (reported by the neighbors). The dead woman's nephew denied killing his aunt -- apparently without having been asked -- to at least two different people, on July 31 and August 2. By this time, the man and his mother had, on at least two separate occasions, refused to allow someone to enter the garage.
Shouldn't the police have obtained a search warrant by that time? She'd been missing more than two weeks, her nephew had been less than cooperative, and his house was known to be squalid (usually grounds for the County to declare the property a public health hazard). Instead, it took the cops two more weeks to get around to properly searching the place. They did "check the house" on July 17 but didn't enter the basement, and they did not yet notice the odor of decaying flesh (it makes one wonder what the terrible stench the mental health worker noticed the day before was). It appears that the 70-year-old woman died in the filthy basement and was later moved into the garage. At least she wasn't made into lampshades.
No word yet on whether anyone cashed her most recent social security check (the usual motive for concealing the death of an elderly relative).
Instead of asking for money to hire more cops, perhaps Madison Police Chief Noble Wray should focus on better training for the ones he has. Here's another tip -- women are known to have a keener sense of smell than men, on average. Perhaps you should send a female officer along when you are checking a house for a possible missing or deceased person. If a police officer had noticed a terrible stench coming from the basement on July 17, perhaps that would have led to a search warrant in a more timely manner.
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