A backyard burial in Apple Valley, California was discovered on Wednesday afternoon when San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputies visited a home in the high desert community to perform a welfare check on 63-year-old Thomas Winn. To their shock, the man’s dead body was found wrapped in trash bags and buried in a shallow grave behind his new house.
Winn’s 59-year-old wife Yvonne apparently admitted to burying her husband, who had been ill for some time before he disappeared. According to a report in San Bernardino’s The Sun, an unnamed person tipped off the sheriff’s department that he hadn’t been seen in some time.
After the investigators questioned Yvonne Winn, she broke down and confessed to the backyard burial.
The woman hasn’t yet been arrested. There’s no evidence yet of any foul play. San Bernardino County Coroner Officer’s spokeswoman Sandy Fatland said that the autopsy hadn’t yet been scheduled and that a final determination of Winn’s cause of death could take several weeks.
The Winns had only recently moved into the house. Yvonne Winn said that she buried her husband in the backyard because she couldn’t afford the high costs of a funeral.
According to a Los Angeles Times report, neighbor Colin Wilson witnessed the grim discovery of the corpse. His yard is divided from the Winn’s by a simple chain-link fence.
Wilson said, “She came out and pointed at the area, and she got on her knees and she started crying.”
The LAT said that informal backyard burials are illegal under California state law. Officials said that people who can’t afford funeral costs are “encouraged to reach out to family members or churches for help.”
Otherwise, they must go through a qualification process to have the body cremated for free by the county.
In other words, they have to more or less beg other people for money, so I guess it’s fairly understandable why a 59-year-old woman wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that.
Colin Wilson and his sister Emily Wilson have now set up an online Fundrazr campaign to help his neighbor pay for the proper disposal of her husband’s remains.
What do you think? I’m not sure I would have been so understanding if my next-door neighbor had carried out a backyard burial.
[cross photo by Pavel Bernshtam via Shutterstock]