Inside a Once-Bustling Home, a Horrifying Discovery

Tragedy befalls 'eccentric' elderly sisters, and a town wonders why no one noticed
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 9, 2017 3:48 PM CST
Updated Mar 10, 2017 12:10 AM CST
Inside a Once-Bustling Home, a Horrifying Discovery
Sad.   (Getty Imags/AEvenson)

In a story reminiscent of Grey Gardens, Patricia Wen tells the tale in the Boston Globe of two reclusive Massachusetts sisters—and the strange story of how one of them eventually disappeared from sight as life buzzed on around them. Sheryl Waldman and her older sister, Lynda, shared their 4,000-square-foot Brookline home for 40 years, and they were notoriously private. Locals became concerned when the siblings' home—"once one of the most distinguished on the street," in which the Waldman family once resided with another, the Carvers—fell into a decrepit state. But health and law enforcement officials respected Lynda's pleas to let them be every time they showed up on her doorstep, until something happened in December that changed everything and made the town embark on some "public soul-searching."

That event: a cousin entered the women's home and found the badly decomposed body of Sheryl Walden (aka Hope Wheaton), under a table; authorities think she may have been dead for over a year. Forensic tests are still being conducted, and Lynda has simply said Sheryl died of natural causes and she didn't know what to do with the corpse. But the bigger picture focuses on the cops and elder services officials who were in contact with the pair, as well as neighbors who kept their distance out of "deference," and why no one picked up on something being terribly wrong. It also shines a light on the financial infighting between the Carvers and other Waldmans that may have exacerbated the situation. "Is this an isolated tragedy, or a reminder about the vulnerability of those who lead hidden lives?" Wen asks. More on the mystery here. (This sister's strange vanishing happened nearly 100 years ago.)

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