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crimesider

Utah man, 74, charged in death of wife buried without autopsy

Jean and Dennis Chamberlain

CBS affiliate KUTV

ROY, Utah - A 74-year-old northern Utah man has been charged with killing his wife despite telling friends and neighbors he discovered her body after returning from a walk, authorities said in court documents and statements Tuesday.

Dennis Chamberlain reported the death of his wife, Jean Chamberlain, in February to family members and a mortuary, police in the city of Roy said in a statement.

Jean Chamberlain, 70, had health problems at the time and was recovering from an apparent stroke, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Her death was not initially reported to authorities and she was buried without an autopsy.

Police declined to tell the Deseret News on Tuesday whether they believe Chamberlain killed his wife as an assisted suicide, a mercy killing or for some other reason.

"We think we know a motive," Lt. Kevin Smith said. "Everything will come out eventually."

Dennis Chamberlain was arrested Monday and appeared in court Wednesday via video from the Weber County jail, where he is being held without bail, according to the paper. He is charged with first-degree felony murder.

Police began investigating the death after family members said Chamberlain gave inconsistent and misleading statements about the death.

He gave different accounts of where he had been before returning home to find the body, and investigators later discovered Chamberlain had researched suicide methods that would be undetectable in an autopsy, court records stated. He also researched various chemicals, poisons and medications and made purchases that could have allowed him to end a life using gas and a plastic bag, authorities said.

Detective Jason VanderWarf told The Tribune that investigators exhumed Jean Chamberlain's body. A medical examiner conducted an autopsy but results of the exam have not been released.

On Wednesday, Chamberlain's attorney Ron Yengich requested a bail hearing, which was scheduled for July 17.

Chamberlain has threatened to commit suicide and had made comments about moving out of the country, police said in court documents.

Before her death, Jean Chamberlain required a wheelchair and assistance but was mentally healthy and researching long-term care facilities, police said.

Dennis England, who lives next door to the Chamberlains, told CBS affiliate KUTV that Chamberlain verbally abused his wife and complained about taking care of her.

"He was tired of her. He was tired of taking care of her, tired of doing this for her and that for her, and he was just tired of everything," England reportedly told the station.

England went on to say that he wasn't surprised his neighbor was arrested.

"I kind of expected it," he said, according to the station.