LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A funeral and burial have been held for an 88-year-old Lafayette man whose body authorities say was in his home for nine months before his death was reported in May.
Thursday's services for Gerald Gavan happened as the county prosecutor continues to consider whether to file any criminal charges. Failure to report a dead body within three hours of its discovery is a misdemeanor in Indiana.
About two dozen people attended Gavan's funeral Mass at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, the Journal & Courier reported. Gavan, who served in World War II, was given military honors and buried next to his mother.
The Tippecanoe County coroner said a forensic entomologist determined Gavan had been dead since at least July 2013 before officers discovered his body on his living room floor in May.
Gavan's wife, Ila Solomon, has disputed the coroner's findings, saying her husband of two years actually died only a few days earlier. She said she left a living room door open each night so that his body could be eaten by birds, in accordance with his wishes.
Tippecanoe County Coroner Donna Avolt said she released Gavan's remains Monday after months of trying to determine who was legally his closest relative. Solomon's status as next of kin remains unconfirmed, but the county's attorneys authorized the coroner's office to release Gavan's remains to her anyway, Avolt said.
"She is the only one who has stepped up to the plate who is willing to take care of final arrangements," Avolt said.
Lafayette police detectives submitted their report to the county prosecutor's office in July after receiving the final financial record they had requested. An enhanced toxicology test didn't reveal the precise cause of Gavan's death.
Solomon has said she repaid the federal government more than $20,000 in benefits disbursed to Gavan after the date set by the coroner for his death.
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