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Woman, mother had shared W.Va. home where decomposed body was found in closet

April 09, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. -- A woman and her mother had shared a duplex in Tuscawilla Hills where the decomposed body of a woman in her 90s was found last week, according to a neighbor and a police official.

The neighbor, Fay Coakley, said the woman and her mother would sit in rocking chairs on the back porch.

The mother died at least a year ago, Coakley said.

A neighbor who lives next door to the duplex said the younger woman died last Wednesday and the body was found when people went inside the home.

Police responded to the duplex at 46 Newington Court last Thursday and found the decomposed body in a closet, according to Jefferson County Sheriff's Department officials.

It appeared that the body had been there for "some time," sheriff's department officials have said.

Officials could not make a positive identification of the body through an autopsy due to its condition and are trying to identify the body through DNA testing, said Lt. Dave Colbert.

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Police have said they are limiting the amount of information they release about -- including why the body was in the closet -- because of an ongoing investigation.

Colbert confirmed Tuesday that a woman who lived in the duplex died last Wednesday. An emergency medical service crew was sent to the house and the woman died while being taken to Jefferson Memorial Hospital, Colbert said.

Family members who went into the house called police after suspecting a body might be inside, Colbert said.

The younger woman who lived in the house was described by neighbors Tuesday as someone who often was seen outside working in the yard, but kept to herself.

Coakley, who lives behind the duplex, said she has lived in her house 23 years and the younger woman in the rental duplex lived there about 15 years. Coakley said it was not until recently that she learned the name of the younger woman.

Coakley said she tried to be friendly to the younger woman -- like when the woman was mowing her grass -- but it seemed the woman wanted to keep to herself.

"I used to wave to her and she wouldn't wave, so I just gave up. She kept her nose on the grass," Coakley said.

Jackie Barr, who lived next door to the woman and her mother, said she would see the younger woman come out of her house and do yard work such as watering flowers and go back inside.

"She really didn't get any visitors. I never talked to her," Barr said.

The younger woman was described as meticulous about her yard. Coakley said she recently saw a plastic garbage can beside the duplex and that struck her as odd because that was out of character for the woman.

The can was still in the yard Tuesday.

Coakley said she last saw the woman about a week ago, trimming a willow tree in her yard.

Coakley said she wondered how long the body might have stayed in the house had the younger woman not died.

"And I think that's kind of icky," Coakley said.

Barr, who said she and her husband have lived next door for about two years, said she only saw one woman at the house and she appeared to be in her 60s. Barr also said she never noticed anything unusual.

"It's all very interesting, that's for sure," Barr said.

No one answered the door at either half of the yellow duplex at 46 Newington Court Tuesday afternoon. Barr said someone else has been living in the other half of the house.

The duplex where the body was found had a flower garden in the front yard with figurines in it. A grapevine decoration spelling "Welcome" hung on the front door.

The duplex is a short distance from the entrance to Tuscawilla Hills, which is off W.Va. 51 about three miles west of Charles Town.

A couple living across the street from the duplex said they had not heard about the body.

Another woman living across the street said she never saw anyone at the duplex. The woman said she works at a beauty salon and people at work have been asking her questions about the body found in the closet.

When asked how she reacted to the body, the woman shook her head for a moment and closed her eyes.

Kennie Marlow, who lives across from the duplex on West Hall Drive, said she did not know who lived in the duplex and never saw anybody there.

But Marlow said she never pays attention to people in the neighborhood because she is usually busy with her job.

"How can you live in a house with a body? That would be terrible," Marlow said.

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