JENNINGS, Mo. - Investigators are trying to determine if mummified remains found in the home of an elderly hoarder are those of the woman's mother, who hasn't been seen for more than a decade.
A relative cleaning out the home three weeks after the occupant died found the mummified woman wrapped in plastic and a multicolored curtain, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Tuesday.
The home's occupant, Gladys Jean Bergmeier, was 75 when she was found dead on Feb. 7, dressed in a nightgown in her bed. She was known by neighbors to be a pack rat whose home was filled with bags of papers and trash and outdated newspapers.
The relative helping clean up on Feb. 26 found the remains, dressed in a pajama top and camisole, with a sock on the right foot. Authorities believe it may be Bergmeier's mother, Gladys Stansbury.
"It appears (Bergmeier) couldn't let go (of her mother)," said Gwen Haugen, a forensic investigator with the St. Louis County medical examiner's office. "This woman always had excuses as to where (Stansbury) might be. As time went on, people just stopped asking."
The office says Stansbury moved in with Bergmeier after the 1993 floods.
Haugen said Stansbury, who was born in 1913, moved in with Bergmeier after the 1993 floods. Other relatives didn't have contact with Stansbury after that.
Ken Maue, who lived next door to Bergmeier, described her as a pleasant woman who had become a loner after her husband died in 1989.
Gussie Harrison, who lives across the street from the home where Bergmeier lived for more than 30 years, said she called police Feb. 7 after she couldn't make contact with Bergmeier.
Neither Maue nor Harrison could recall seeing Stansbury at the home over the last 20 years.
The body presumed to be Stansbury's is at the St. Louis County medical examiner's office while investigators look for information that might help them pinpoint when she died.
Investigators found an orange juice bottle with a 2003 expiration date inside the plastic that contained the remains. It's not clear if Stansbury died around that time or the bottle just ended up between the plastic wrappings. Haugen asked anyone who has seen her more recently than that to contact authorities.