11-08-2008, 10:38 PM #1Registered User
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- Dec 2005
90 Year old Women Found Living with 3 dead siblings
Police: 90-year-old living with 3 siblings' bodies
Neighbors say woman was alert and aware; one body dead since '80s
Updated 6:11 p.m. ET, Sat., Nov. 8, 2008
EVANSTON, Ill. - A 90-year-old woman well-liked by her neighbors apparently has been living in a house with the bodies of three siblings, one of whom may have been dead since the early 1980s, police say.
11-08-2008, 10:48 PM #2
Hmm,, I am wondering if the social security checks continued coming. Obviously the last three were in agreement to not bury the first one. This is interesting, I would love to hear more, like was this place their childhood home, etc.
11-08-2008, 10:54 PM #3
It was. According to the article in the Chicago tribune her parents owned the home and passed away in 66 and 72 or 74. Very bizzare story. Homes in the area look to be well kept.
Here is the Trib link
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11-09-2008, 12:06 AM #4Former Member
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- Feb 2004
I feel sorry for her. It sounds as if she emotionally wasn't able to handle the deaths of her sibs.
11-09-2008, 12:45 AM #5
Sorry, but I think there is something very "sick" here. A 90 year old living in a home with someone who died in the early 1980s? One who died in May of this year, and one who died in 2003? How about the stench?
If that 90 year old were in that home 20 years ago, they were in their 70s then? I know a ton of 70 year olds with their wits about them. Those who, at 90, garden, share plants and hand out Halloween candy, have some type of skill and have had for some time. That home has been managed for all of those years, who was doing the managing of it?
There is something extremely uncomfortable and unsavory about anyone living with a rotting dead body in their home, then another and another? Homes have air circulating through them, the smells waft about, don't they? AND if the smell of death can be smelled "outside" of a car with a dead body in the trunk, you can bet the smell of death was throughout that house.
There are many 90 year olds who are not just "nice old people" but who were sick in the head earlier in life. You don't let a person die in your home, then cover them with a blanket and shut the door. The article says that "some" were covered with a blanket.
Three rotting corpses and this was not known? Oh no, it was known that there were dead bodies in that home and that is OUTRAGEOUS!
11-09-2008, 01:26 AM #6
Reviewing one of the articles, the dead were Frank, Anita and Elaine (Bernstorff). One article mentioned that the home was owned by a Frank Bernstorff. One of the articles mentioned that Frank Bernstorff died at the age of 94 in 1966, his surviving children were Frank, Anita, Elaine and Margaret. Which Frank owned the home? (jr or sr). And if you look at the dead, who is the survivor? The neighbors knew the woman tending the garden as "Margaret."
One article says, "She was described as a longtime resident who apparently was in contact with an Evanston senior advocate and a family lawyer, one of whom called police, Guenther said." The other article says, "Police Cmdr. Tom Guenther says the bodies were found Friday in Evanston, a Chicago suburb, after authorities were called by a senior advocate."
Hmmm...there was family lawyer for how long, but the senior advocate contacted the police, why? Were the siblings who died "incapable" all of their lives? Did the two who died later never question why the smell in the house, did they ever wonder into the room with the dead sibling from 1980? did the last one who died never wonder about the smell in 2003 or were they there then? Have all of these siblings lived in this house since their father and mother's death? Where is the body of Frank Sr. and "Lillian" his wife who died in 1974. Did none of these siblings ask after one another? Did any of these siblings marry and have children?
>>Neighbors described the woman as alert and aware, and said she was well liked on their close-knit block of large, historic homes.<<
Close knit? They didn't even notice no activity from the 3 or 4 people who were supposedly living in the house? If they asked, about the people what answers were they given?
The article says, "A preliminary investigation showed no signs of foul play." Well I think it is pretty foul to leave a dead body in your home, this is absolutely not normal.
11-09-2008, 02:08 AM #7
>>The bodies were identified as Anita D. Bernstorff, 98, Frank A. Bernsdorff, 88 and Elaine B. Bernsdorff, 91, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.<<
Now just how did they figure the ages of these people? Someone must have the birth records. Frank sr. died in 1966 at age 94 (so born around 1872). Oldest child was "Anita Bernstorff was the eldest, born in 1910." According to one article, "Anita Bernstorff, who was last seen alive in May 2008" (by whom?) Okay, so maybe she was 98 upon her death.
Wait a minute now... The article says, "Elaine Bernstorff, who was last seen alive in the early 1980s." (who saw her alive?) And if Anita was the eldest, we know that Elaine was born after her, i.e. after 1910, but Elaine was last seen alive in 1980s ("one of whom may have been dead since the early 1980s, police say." Was she 91 at the time of her death or was she the one who "may have been dead" since the early 1980s? Might she have died in her 70s (how old and able was Margaret at that time and where was she living?) I might guess that whoever had the chore of scooping up these dead bodies might have been able to figure out "approximately" how long they might have been dead.
"Frank Bernstorff, not seen alive since 2003" (by whom was he seen?) If Frank was dead at 88, he was born about 1915.
Article says, "Authorities, including a City of Evanston Senior Advocate, responded to the home in the 1200 block of Judson Avenue about 10:15 a.m. and met with an elderly woman who told them the three, all of whom were her relatives, had been dead for some time." UNBELIEVABLE!
>>The resident, who is cooperating with police, is "upwards of 90 years of age" and has been taken to a nearby facility for care, he said.<<
I would be very interested in what this "cooperation" illuminates. I would be interested in "who" saw these people last alive. I would be interested in knowing if these people were "normal" or "mentally incapable" of handling themselves from an early age. AND where does this family lawyer come into this picture? What supported this household? Was there a will and what did it say? And how on earth could people live in a house with dead bodies?
11-09-2008, 02:20 AM #8
>>Evanston, IL. --
The three siblings whose bodies were found in an Evanston home Friday died of natural causes, but when they died remains a mystery, the Cook County Medical Examiner's office said Saturday.
The skeletal remains of Anita D. Bernstorff, born in 1910, Frank A. Bernstorff, born in 1920, and Elaine B. Bernstorff, born in 1916, were examined Saturday. A full autopsy could not be done because of the bodies' state of decomposition, said an official at the medical examiner's office who spoke on condition of anonymity.<<
>>One of the Bernstorffs was believed to have died in the early 1980s, a medical examiner official said Friday. Because their dates of death is unknown, officials don't know how old the three were when they died.<<
>>Another neighbor, who didn’t want his name used, thought that perhaps the woman didn’t know what to do when her siblings died.
“It could well be that she was not able to notify people or didn’t quite understand,” he said. “She isn’t quite worldly.”<<
Hmmm "She isn't quite worldly?" Well was the senior advocate worldly, or the lawyer? Were the utilities turned on, were the taxes paid, was the house upkept? Was the garden maintained? Were there groceries in the house to hand out Halloween candy (we get when Halloween occurs but we don't get that a body is dead?) And how about 20 years ago when the first dead body was there?
Something wrong with this picture.
11-09-2008, 02:43 AM #9
A handbook of german grammar (FRANK ADOLPH BERNSTORFF, PH.D.) Dad was fairly apt. Were his children of normal intelligence or was there something problematic with all of them (incapable of living on their own)? What did they do for a living, did they ever leave the family home? When did they return to it?
Ah, okay, the explanations?
>>One longtime resident said the woman explained away her siblings' absence by telling neighbors her brother had gone to live with other relatives and that one of her sisters was agoraphobic — afraid to leave the home. The resident said neighbors, who often took the woman food and groceries, were never inside.<<
Oh, if this is an "unworldly" woman, how was it that there were explanations for questions like "gone to live with other relatives" (like in heaven maybe?) and "Agoraphobia" (not the word of an "unworldly" person.)
This article says "A lawyer called the police to her house." Hmmm did the senior help advisor or the lawyer call... Way weird.
11-09-2008, 04:20 AM #10Registered User
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- Aug 2005
This is just monumentally weird. Since one of them has been dead since the 1980s, it would mean the other three would had to have agreed not to call anyone or arrange for a funeral. The remaining two would had to have agreed not to call when the one died in 2003.
I cannot imagine this would have happened without agreement among or between them. It also makes me wonder if these siblings didn't suffer from some sort of inherited mental illness.A is A - Ayn Rand
11-09-2008, 11:26 AM #11
Colorful Victorian era house. Just had a look at what I think is the 1200 block of Judson. It seems a beautiful neighborhood with the houses set back off the street. Some of the houses seem quite big. Seems like you could "lose" a section of the house and still have a lot more room to live in.
Apparently neighbors knew something about what was in the house. Had some of them been in the house? I'm wondering if they are shivering in their boots at the thought of what they now know was also in the house now. The house was a virtual mausoleum. Brings a whole new meaning to someone handing out Halloween candy in front of the "real" spooky house.
>>Neighbors knew 90-year-old Margaret Bernstorff's Evanston home was a mess, cluttered with old furniture and stacks of yellowing newspapers.<<
They have adjusted possible age and potential years of death of Elaine:
>>The Cook County medical examiner's office confirmed Saturday that the dead included Bernstorff's sister Anita, who died in May at age 98; her brother, Frank, who died in 2003 at age 83; and another sister, Elaine, who died in her 60s sometime in the late 1970s. The bodies, some covered with blankets, were found Friday in different rooms of the home.<<
Hmmm... So let's see, her body has been in that house for some 30 years? Ugh.
>>As investigators continued to gather information from the home, police and neighbors were left to wonder how a woman could apparently live for years inside a home with the decaying remains of family members.<<
I guess so...
AND something I had wondered about... That home had to have been maintained over the course of time, now we hear from a contractor.
>>"I'm shocked. I think we're all shocked," said Allan Redmond, an Evanston contractor who had become friendly with Margaret Bernstorff after doing repairs on her home.<<
Evidently the contractor asked about the sister Anita and was told by Margaret that "her sister was sick and upstairs." Do you suppose that Margaret didn't know the difference between sick and dead? Someone "knew" that she died in "May." How is that? Did a doctor visit her, or did she visit a doctor back then, then suddenly a missed appointment? Did someone speak to her on the phone, then couldn't speak to her on the phone anymore because she was sick and didn't feel like talking? Did the house have a phone? OR did Margaret tell them that her sister died in May.
The article says that Margaret "had a reputation as something of a pack rat." Woah, this is pack ratting to the extreme, the macabre. But it appears there was mutual pack ratting amidst siblings?
Also, evidently, some neighbors knew that Margaret had once lived with relatives... Hmmm, which relatives, where AND when did she move into the family home again. Did she move in after the death of Elaine? If so, who was living in that home at the time?
11-09-2008, 01:08 PM #12
>>This is just monumentally weird.<<
I agree 100%. What is also wierd is that there is a whole lot more to this story and it hasn't yet filtered out to us. Someone has to know who moved in, lived in that house and when. Certainly some neighbors have a clue, or relatives. And certainly there is some clue as to the mental estate of those who lived in the home.
There is a family lawyer. I have to wonder how long that lawyer has been the family lawyer, and what funds paid them. I also wonder how old that lawyer is (and maybe "their" mental estate). Who has communicated with this lawyer and what were the communications. What "estate" or money managed the upkeep and taxes of that house. One might guess that the home was paid off years ago, but who has been "literally" paying the property taxes, utilities, maintenance, lawn and tree care and from what funds? Did the father/mother or any of the siblings have a big estate (inheritance) to pay for this (managed by a lawyer)? Has LE interviewed the lawyer, the senior adviser?
>>Since one of them has been dead since the 1980s, it would mean the other three would had to have agreed not to call anyone or arrange for a funeral. The remaining two would had to have agreed not to call when the one died in 2003.<<
This is certainly a curious set of thoughts, isn't it? I mean IF Margaret was living with relatives (which relatives? where?), then at some point moved back into the home, when was that AND which of her siblings was living in (or dead in) the house at that time? Did she never question where her elder sister was, how she was, if she had died and been buried and where? Did none of the siblings, whoever and whenever they moved in wonder what the heck was in the other rooms of the house, no one explored? And what if they did explore...
The father is noted as dying in 1966 (was he buried, where?), Lillian the mother is noted as dying 6 years later in 1972 (the father was 94 at the time of death, how old was Lillian?)
AHA, a record...
Lillian BERNSTORFF <--- is this the mother? I think maybe so.
Born: 10 Dec 1881
Died: Mar 1974 <--- hmmm "no" specific date of death?
Locality: Evanston, Cook, Illinois
It appears that Lillian was 92 at the time of death. Was daughter Elaine living with her at the time?
Now we hear that Elaine died in her 60s in the 1970s (before or after mother?) Was Elaine of sound mind, i.e. not mentally challenged? Was mother caring for a child that was not well (mentally or otherwise), or was daughter caring for her aging mother? Who preceded who in death? Why is there no "specific death date" for Lillian? Was Lillian's death managed by a funeral home, was she cremated or buried? Where? Oh my gosh, where is Lillian's body?
If Elaine preceded Lillian in death, how did the authorities/siblings get the body handled with Elaine's remains in the house and no one noticing (did Lillian die outside the home and was found)? If Elaine died after her mother, did Elaine need care, was anyone there caring for her, or was she left to manage herself? Is it possible that Lillian's death was managed, then the 3 other siblings left the house alone for a while only to go there and find Elaine?
Maybe the 3 other siblings were busy with life, then someone went and found Elaine and thought "oh cr*p." Why not call the police? OR was there one of the siblings that KNEW that Elaine died there and they said nothing? Did they swear others to secrecy due to some family pact (and then the pact went on from there)?
Airplane, you wrote:
>>I cannot imagine this would have happened without agreement among or between them. It also makes me wonder if these siblings didn't suffer from some sort of inherited mental illness.<<
Yes, something is not right here, not at all. It also seems that there was some agreement unless all of these people just had a screw loose and/or none of them managed the entire home. It "is" possible for all children in a family to suffer a genetic something (retardation/illness). Even so, there is not enough information to figure this out, not yet, but I hope we get more.
As a note, I found something a bit interesting while fishing the Bernstorff name. There was a "Count" von Bernstorff who appears to be born in London (I believe) just about 10 years before Frank Bernstorff. The Count was a shady guy. I have to wonder if there is any family connection?
Dissertation of Frank Adolph Bernstorff This was written in 1914, so about at the age of 42. I would be interested in knowing when FA Bernstorff came to this country, a little about his geneology (wondering about the funds keeping the family home all these years), and where he is buried IF he is buried, and where the body of Lillian was buried IF it was buried.
This is definitely a "movie." How often can something like this really happen?
Last edited by Wrinkles; 11-09-2008 at 05:17 PM.
11-09-2008, 01:13 PM #13
11-09-2008, 01:51 PM #14
Is this "Lillian" (Lilian Clara Bergold)? She appears to be Mrs. Frank Adolph Bernstorff PhB 1907. 806 Milburn St. Evanston, Illinois (according to the link.)
PHb = Bachelor of Philosophy
Or this, published 1908 before birth of Elaine
I'm wondering if "book" money was coming in for the family.
I wonder if any of the sleuthers can find the grave of father/mother.
11-09-2008, 02:04 PM #15
Okay, so how much did an assistant professor make prior to 1966?
"a retired assistant professor of German at Northwestern University"
I'm trying to figure out the finances that kept the family in a home with three corpses.
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