Wyalusing, Pennsylvania Salad Fingers may be a cartoon (which, by the way, it’s an awesome one at that) but I never thought I’d ever run across a prime example of life imitating art – or vice versa. At least not to this degree. And I never in a million years thought I’d be fortunate enough to “happen” upon a story such as this. Although I’ve sat on this “case” for a few days, in idle times I’ve thought about little else. In the original source, the journalist was correct when describing the past decade of Jean’s life’s decisions “a bit sad, and in [their] own peculiar way, sweet.” What they left out was “disturbing”, “twisted”, and plain “fucked-up”. But there’s something endearing about this lady that, if only for a split-second, makes you feel pretty badly for her. Then the cold-hard question of “what the hell?” comes crashing the party and well, Jean has some major issues.
Acting on a “tip”, police responded to the home of 91-year-old Jean Stevens, a widow who’d been living in a house along a country road. By all accounts, she was alone in life. She’d lost her husband to Parkinson’s Disease in 1999 and her twin sister to cancer in October of last year. But when police arrived at her house, they found she wasn’t exactly alone. Her husband James was loafing about on a couch in the detached garage and her sister June was doing the same on a couch across from Jean’s bedroom. But ThinkGoat, how could that be, you ask?
Funny thing about embalming, its intended purpose is to forestall decomposition to make “viewing” the dead body much more suitable at the visitation/funeral. It’s not intended to last forever as everything still breaks down and slides off the human skeleton with the time-frame dependent on a number of factors: the expertise of the mortician, the chemicals used, the exposure to elements, etc. There are some bodies that last for decades…and there are some bodies that continue their melting process rather quickly. Kind of luck of the draw. It’s unlike taxidermy – where the skin/fur is stripped from the skeleton, preserved, and draped over a structured form. And really, I don’t see a whole lot of difference between what Jean did with James and June and what people do with their dead pets. So if you’ve got Rover sitting in some corner of your room staring blankly at a fixed place on the wall, or if he’s permanently sleeping, shut the fuck up. You’re no different than Jean. ;)
Not being one for lengthy goodbyes or hip on death being a “forever” kind of gig, Jean had her husband’s body exhumed and she continued to tend to his every need but now without the bitching and moaning most husbands do. Still dressed in a dark suit, a white shirt, and a blue knitted tie, Jean took care James’ remains as best she could. Now what exactly does that entail? Did she have to dust him off or did she bathe him during the first few years. Although she’s been pretty forthcoming about her actions, she’s not giving all the details someone like me really needs to know.
What is known, shortly after James’ death (within days), Jean had his corpse exhumed secretly and set on the couch where she could rest assured knowing she’d always get in the last word. It’d be interesting to know if her twin, June, knew her sister’s secret as they were very close. Not physically – June lived some 200 miles away but they spoke several times a week by phone. But when June was diagnosed with and died from cancer last year, her embalmed body traveled from Connecticut to Jean’s backyard as her final resting place. Or so people thought. Just as soon as she was buried, Jean had her dug up and placed her on another couch in her house, still dressed in her “best house coat”.
“I think when you put them in the (ground), that’s goodbye, goodbye,” Stevens said. “In this way I could touch her and look at her and talk to her.” She offered the same explanation when referring to her husband, “I could see him, I could look at him, I could touch him. Now, some people have a terrible feeling, they say, ‘Why do you want to look at a dead person? Oh my gracious,'” she said. Oh my gracious? Dear God is more like it.
The authorities, psychiatrists, and the coroner have offered up some form of justifications regarding Jean’s actions, she’s claustrophobic, she’s not really religious and hasn’t a grasp on the ‘afterlife’ concept, and she thought she was defeating death by having the bodies on this side of the dirt. Now look, I’m not religious, I’m claustrophobic, and I always have to have the last word, but I can guarantee you one fucking thing, there’s no way in HELL I’d dig up my dead loved ones and continue to fuck with them. No matter how often I threaten.
Jean Stevens admitted to, in simplistic Goat-speak, fucking with her sister and husband. She’d spray her sister’s favorite expensive perfume on her and “fix her up”. As in putting on make-up, do her hair, you know, all the fun things sisters do with one another. “When I put the glasses on, it made all the difference in the world.” Hell fucking yes it did. Knowing the elderly, their lenses were the thickness of pop-bottle bottoms. With live people, it generally makes their eyes the size of golf balls. With a dead person, hell, draw a small-sized pupil on the outside of the closed eyelid, don the glasses, and viola, she looks fucking normal. Except for the mouth that’s tied shut. But hell, pry the lips open, cut the monofilament that is threaded through the top part of the mouth and through the bottom of the chin and you can actually make like you’re feeding them.
Jean is blaming one of her husband’s distant relatives for tipping off the police. “I think that is dirty, rotten.” Laugh.Out.Loud. Talk about a screwed-up perception. Who in their right mind wouldn’t turn this shit in? It’s neither healthy, normal, nor sanitary to have not one, but two decomposing bodies under one roof so you can continue to play “house”. And that’s saying something coming from me. As endearing as her personality was, she couldn’t get one “taker” when offered a slice of pie. Not one. “You’re afraid I’ll poison you”. No dear. I think they were more fearful of your total disregard to sanitary conditions.
Although charges have not been placed upon Jean Stevens (the State’s Attorney hasn’t made a decision), it’s speculated that misdemeanor “abuse of a corpse” might be the only thing she faces. You know, I don’t care what her age might be, how lonely, or how claustrophobic she may be, digging up a body for one’s personal pleasure is wrong wrong wrong…and against the law. She needs to face some charges. Give her community service as a sentence. Just not at any cemetery.
If the video didn’t load immediately, have patience, it will. And it’s a “must see”.
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