Police carrying out a welfare check on an elderly couple were left horrified to find not only the corpse of the 75-year-old woman but also, hidden away inside a freezer, the body of her 69-year-old husband.

Cops visited the retirement apartment block in Tooele, Utah last month and, alongside the bodies, found a letter written by Paul Mathers - and signed by a lawyer - which said that his wife Jeanne Souron-Mathers was not involved in his death.

Police have since said Mr Mathers had a terminal illness, adding that it's likely he died sometime between 4 February 2009 and 8 March 2009.

Sergeant Jeremy Hansen of the Tooele Police Department told reporters: "I've been here 13 years - this is one of the strangest cases. We've never had anything like this."

He went on to say officers had opened the fridge after finding Ms Souron-Mathers' body and were hoping that its contents would give 'some type of timeline' for her death. However, after one cop opened up a chest freezer in the utility room he was horrified to find 'and unidentified deceased adult male in the freezer'.

Evan Kline, a neighbour, told Fox 13: "Jeanne was a nice person, very friendly.

"She was putting out that her husband walked out on her."

Cops are now investigating the possibility that Ms Souron-Mathers continued to collect Veterans Affairs benefit after her husband's death and have filed subpoenas with the veterans Affairs and Social Security to determine when payments were made.

If the benefit had been paid after Mr Mathers' death, Hansen said, they would amount to at least $177,000 (£136,106). Not reporting his death would also be a crime.

Resident James Kite speculated about the idea of Ms Souron-Mathers failing to report his death so she could still claim his benefits, calling it 'kind of smart' but 'creepy'.

He told the news outlet: "I wouldn't want to live in an apartment with my dead husband or my dead wife.

"Based on what I know now, I'd have to say it was probably the plan, yeah, for her to keep the money because it was her only source of income.

"I guess you could call it kind of smart - then again, crooks a lot of the time are smart.

"I'd have to wait and to see what they come up with on the handwriting, but at this point in time, my bet is [the letter is] probably legit. My jaw hit the floor when I found out."

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