TOOELE — The Tooele man whose body was found in a freezer inside his wife’s home — a body that police believe had been stored there for a decade — may have also left a note for authorities stating that his wife didn’t kill him.
Tooele police confirmed Monday that detectives discovered a note, allegedly written by Paul Edward Mathers, 69, before he died.
Investigators also confirmed that his widow continued to receive his Veterans Affairs checks after he died.
Police “located the notarized letter from a male saying his wife, who was the deceased elderly female in the apartment, was not responsible for his death,” according to a search warrant affidavit filed in 3rd District Court.
The signed letter was notarized on Dec. 2, 2008, said Tooele Police Sgt. Jeremy Hansen. As of Monday, detectives had not verified through handwriting analysis whether it is Mathers’ signature, he said.
Police have talked to the person who notarized the letter, but learned that the person is not required to read the contents of the letter and did not do so, he said.
The note is the latest twist in the ongoing investigation that started with the odd discovery made on Nov. 22.
On that day, Tooele police went to the Remington Park Apartments, 495 W. Utah Ave., to conduct a welfare check on 75-year-old Jeanne Sourone-Mathers, who had not been seen for a week. Inside, police discovered she was deceased and was believed to have died of natural causes.
But as officers searched the house looking for clues as to how long she had been dead, they discovered Mathers’ body in the freezer.
In the warrant, the officer described what he found when he opened the chest-style freezer and saw “a large mass wrapped in black plastic.”
“The mass appeared to possibly be a human in the fetal position. Another officer came into the room and tore a small hole in the black plastic. Within the plastic, detectives saw what appeared to be the heel of a human foot. There was a piece of orange plastic covering part of the black plastic. Detectives moved the orange plastic to the side and saw what appeared to be a human backbone,” the warrant states.
Based on interviews and other evidence collected, police believe Mathers died in 2009 sometime between Feb. 4 and March 8. Hansen said the last time Mathers was seen at the VA Hospital was on Feb. 4, 2009. At that time, Mathers had a terminal illness, he said.
Whether that undisclosed illness ultimately caused his death was still under investigation Monday.
One of the possible motives police were exploring for keeping her husband’s body in the freezer is whether Sourone-Mathers did it to collect his Social Security and VA checks.
Detectives have learned that from the time Mathers is believed to have died to when his wife died, Sourone-Mathers collected approximately $177,000 in VA checks, according to Hansen.
As to whether Mathers and his wife had collaboratively devised a plan to keep his body in a freezer after his death so she could continue receiving his benefit checks, Hansen said Monday that was also still under investigation.