Utah Police conducting a welfare check at the residence of 75-year-old Jeanne Souron-Mathers, in the retirement community she lived in with her husband, made a gruesome discovery last month. Not only was Souron-Mathers dead, but they found the body of her husband, Paul Mathers, tucked inside a deep freezer she kept in the house’s utility room. According to police, the husband had been dead for more than ten years, but the woman may have kept his body in the freezer to continue collecting his VA disability payments.
“I’ve been here 13 years — this is one of the strangest cases,” Tooele City Police Sgt. Jeremy Hansen told the press. “We’ve never had anything like this.”
The wellness check was spurred by a maintenance worker, in the retirement community, who contacted police, though it’s not clear what prompted the call. Police arrived and found the body of Souron-Mathers. They didn’t discover her husband’s body until they inspected the refrigerator and freezers in the house in an attempt to establish a timeline of her death. As the search progressed, a detective opened the separate freezer in the utility room and immediately reported finding “an unidentified deceased adult male in the freezer,” Hansen said.
The incident has been under investigation ever since, with police announcing this week that they’ve discovered a number of clues that may explain the unusual situation they found inside the couple’s house. One of those clues was a notarized letter dated December of 2018 that appears to have been written by the deceased man. In the letter, Mathers specifically says that his wife was not responsible for his death. Police added that they have yet to confirm that the signature on the letter belonged to the man. Compounding the complexity, the notary who stamped and signed the letter said that she did not read it.
Hansen explained that it appears the man had a terminal illness and died sometime after his last appointment at VA hospital on February 4, 2009; this was likely before March 8 of the same year. After his death, Souron-Mathers continued to collect his disability checks that totaled more than $177,000 over the decade span. Another investigation is underway to determine if she was also collecting his social security.
“Based on what I know now, I’d have to say it was probably the plan, yeah, for her to keep the money because it was her only source of income,” Evan Kline, who also lives in the same retirement community said. “I guess you could call it kind of smart — then again, crooks a lot of the time are smart.”
“Jeanne was, by all appearances, a very nice person. Very friendly. We’ve talked to her quite a bit and took her to doctor appointments,” Kline said. “The story that — at least she was putting out — was her husband walked out on her.”
An autopsy report into Mather’s death is pending. It should shine more light on what exactly happened in this situation. But if the letter is real, it would seem that the man knew his wife intended to keep his body in the freezer in order to continue receiving the payments.