Police investigating death unreported for months

LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A Lafayette woman is speaking out about the bizarre circumstances surrounding the death of her 88-year-old husband.

Gerald Gavan’s body was found inside their home, but police said he had been dead for nine months when they found him. Neighbors said Gavan's wife lived in the home during that time and acted as if everything was normal.

Officers found Gavan's body on his living room floor near the front door last month. Detective Lt. John Withers said a relative tried to contact Gavan while he was in town for a birthday celebration and called police when Gavan did not answer.

An expert on insects determined that Gavan had been dead since at least last July, Tippecanoe County coroner Donna Avolt said. If necessary, she said, the forensic entomologist would testify in court that Gavan died last July 15.

But Ila Solomon, who was Gavan's caretaker before they married two years ago in Kentucky, said that was not true.

"Miss Solomon has had several stories as to how he died and when he died. We prefer to deal in concrete fact with the odontologist, the anthropologist and the entomologist," Avolt said.

Solomon said Gavan died April 28 from a stroke. She said dehumidifiers, rodents and flies accelerated the decomposition of Gavan's body enough in five days for an expert to think he'd been dead much longer.

"I know he went and got a haircut that day and I know he went over to McDonald’s and had a cup of coffee that day and he was starting to work on a planter box and I had some errands and had gone to the grocery store and had got some ice cream at the grocery store and I came into the living room and he was on the floor," Solomon said.

Solomon said she did not call 911 the day he died.

"Because he asked me to keep a secret and open the door, you'd do that for your best friend wouldn't you? If it was my best friend that I thought was dying I'd call 911. Well honey everybody's going to die it's how you live that matters," Solomon said.

Authorities are waiting on toxicology results to determine a cause of death. They are also waiting for information from financial and medical institutions.

"We're going to treat it like a homicide until we determine otherwise," Withers told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Withers said that after reviewing the information he's awaiting, he'll turn the case over to prosecutors to review.

"It definitely will be once we get everything back," he said. But he added that procedure is routine in unusual deaths.

Solomon said her dead husband wanted to die in India, where deceased bodies are placed on hillsides for vultures to eat. Now she’s trying to raise money to send Gavan’s remains to a site in Texas where researchers study vultures feeding on human bodies.

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