A tragic series of events led to the deaths of three family members in Glenaire, Missouri, due to natural causes.
66-year-old Roger Wilfong had been serving as a caretaker for his sister, 67-year-old Mary Wilfong, and their mother, 99-year-old Virginia King, when the bodies of all three were discovered earlier this summer, along with that of their pet dog.
Stumping authorities at the time, autopsy results have now clarified that the incident was the result of neither foul play nor intoxication. Rather, the deaths of all three family members stemmed from an “unfortunate” and alarming freak accident. As such, the incident highlights the vulnerable and often-precarious circumstances endured by those who rely on others for care.
According to the Courier-Tribune, police believe that Roger Wilfong passed away on June 21 after choking on food. In the wake of his death, his sister and mother, whom he cared for, did not have access to food, water, or medications.
Virginia King and Mary Wilfong died the next month, in July, say police.
“They both had extensive health issues and could not move about the home without his assistance,” explained a Clay County Sheriff’s Office press release, per the Courier-Tribune. Authorities believe that Virginia King and Mary Wilfong’s mobility issues may have contributed to their deaths, as they could not feed or care for themselves independently.
While starvation is suspected to have contributed to their deaths, their official cause of death was not determined by the autopsy: “Autopsy results stated Mary Wilfong and Virginia King died from undetermined causes, but there was no evidence of foul play or drugs or alcohol.”
Additionally, it’s believed that the home’s air conditioning system was not working, thus creating a deadly environment amid high summer temperatures. Explained the Sheriff’s Office: “The temperatures in the month between when Roger Wilfong died on June 21 and when the bodies were discovered on July 21 were well into the 90s on multiple occasions, which also could have contributed to the deaths of Mary Wilfong and Virginia King.”
The cause of death of the family’s dog was also left undetermined, as its body had become too decomposed for analysis. However, authorities said that they found evidence of dog food in the house, but no access to water.
Police first discovered the bodies back in July after a neighbor reported “not seeing the resident for some time,” reported KSHB. All three family members were “seated in the living room” when authorities found them and “appeared to have been there for some time.”
Newsweek has reached out to the Clay County Sheriff’s Department for additional comment.