Woman Finds Husband's Body While Getting Christmas Decorations from a Closet 8 Months After He Went Missing

Police searched an Illinois home twice for signs of Richard Maedge, 53, after he disappeared in April 2022. In December, his wife discovered his body while looking for ornaments

An Illinois man reported missing last April was found dead eight months later in a hideaway closet in his home.

According to FOX affiliate KTVI, Madison County Coroner's Office confirmed last week that Richard Maedge, 53, had died by suicide.

The outlet reported that Richard disappeared on April 27 last year after calling his wife, Jennifer Maedge, to tell her he was leaving work early. But Jennifer couldn't find or contact him after she returned to their house in Troy, where his car was parked outside.

During an initial search of the home, police were unable to locate the missing man. Later, a second search was conducted at the home after Jennifer complained of a smell.

As Jennifer prepared for the holidays on Dec. 11, she went to look for Christmas decorations in a storage area behind a clothes cupboard under a staircase in the home, she recalled to the Bellville News-Democrat. That's where she found her husband's body, eight months after he was last seen.

Richard J. Maedge of Troy, Illinois
Aebischer-Richeson Funeral Home

"I decided to put the Christmas tree up, and I was looking for a tote of Christmas ornaments, and that's when I discovered him," she said. "He had committed suicide."

If you or someone you know needs mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

A report from Madison County Coroner Steve Nonn released on Thursday and cited by KTVI, confirmed Richard died by suicide. No evidence of foul play was found during the autopsy.

PEOPLE reached out to the coroner for comment on Tuesday.

Kelly Rogers, the county's chief deputy coroner, told the outlet that police noticed a "sewer-like" smell inside the residence, which they described as a "hoarder home."

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Rogers told KTVI that the body was in a mummified state, explaining that it might not have a strong odor — which could be why it took so long to find it.

Jennifer told the News-Democrat that the family held a funeral for Richard in January.

She said she understands why police missed Richard's body, telling the outlet that they wouldn't have known about the hidden closet and that the smell wasn't "overpowering."

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or go to 988lifeline.org.

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