A headless mummified body found in a ditch in central Russia was there because of a failed Biblical miracle, not murder, Yaroslavl Region investigators said on Monday. The man, a Pentecostal missionary, died of an illness, but his wife, a member of the same Christian denomination, preserved the corpse for three years, the local branch of the Investigative Committee said. The woman expected him to return to life.
The mummified body was found in the village of Semibratovo in July, stashed in a plastic bag. It was missing an arm and head, soon discovered in a nearby trash dump. The committee opened a case on murder charges, but eventually discovered the truth was quite different. The man, whose name was withheld, worked as a missionary for the Pentecostals, including in the Siberian republic of Buryatia. The family led an isolated life, with their five children brought up by the missionary’s wife, a certified preschool teacher.
The head of the family expired in 2009, but his wife could not bring herself to accept it. She preserved the body in the apartment and told the children he would come back to life. The children were made to attend to their late father every day, speaking to him and “feeding” him broth. They reported to their mother that he conversed with them, but she never entered his room, afraid that contacting him prematurely could spoil the resurrection. The family kept acquaintances at bay by telling them the man was too ill to speak to anyone. They used air fresheners to mask the odor of the rotting body.
The situation continued until last summer, when the family decided to relocate elsewhere in the region. Fearing that the body would be discovered, two of the missionary’s three daughters, aged 9 and 14, carried the corpse away to dump it. The arm and the head broke away in the process and had to be discarded separately. The case was closed without any charges against the woman, who did not need hospitalisation. But child protection services are looking into the incident. Pentecostal groups have more than 1,300 churches across Russia.