Police finish review of allegedly unreported death

Police lights
(WISH Photo, file)

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — It will be up to prosecutors to determine whether to file charges in the death of an 88-year-old Indiana man whose body remained in his home for nine months before it was reported in May.

Lafayette police Detective Lt. John Withers said he submitted the report to the Tippecanoe County Prosecutor’s Office on Tuesday after receiving the final financial record he had requested.

The Tippecanoe County coroner said Gerald Gavan had been dead since at least last July before officers discovered his body on his living room floor in May.

Gavan’s wife, Ila Solomon, disputed the coroner’s findings, saying her husband of two years actually died on April 28, only a few days before the officers found it. She said she left the living room’s side door open each night so that his body could be eaten by birds, in accordance with his wishes.

An expert on insects determined that Gavan had been dead since at least last July, Coroner Donna Avolt said. But Solomon said she may hire her own entomologist in an attempt to disprove the official record.

Avolt said her office has received enhanced toxicology test results, but the precise cause and manner of Gavan’s death remain undetermined. Her investigation is continuing.

The Journal & Courier reports that it has found records indicating the 54-year-old woman had been married at least three times previously before she wed Gavan. Solomon disputes that allegation.

Solomon said she has repaid the federal government more than $20,000 in benefits disbursed to her husband since the coroner says he died last year.

The government reclaimed more than $1,250 per month in Social Security benefits plus $900 per month for Gavan’s military pension, Solomon said.

“It took a little while, so then I had some bounce fees, but I just had to move it from savings to checking,” Solomon said.

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