Police in Maine are investigating after the remains of an elderly woman were discovered in a shallow grave on a property where the owner claims she buried her friend as a part of her dying wish.
Vernelle Jackson, 83, wasn’t worried when state officials showed up at her home on Harrison Road in Norway on Tuesday to perform a welfare check on a woman who had reportedly been staying with her.
According to a news release, Maine State Police recovered the remains of a female, believed to be in her 80s, buried in Jackson’s backyard. Officials say she likely died 12-18 months ago but will conduct an autopsy to determine the time and cause of death.
Jackson told WMTV that she was honest with the police and admitted to burying her friend of 20 years on her property, adding that she was unaware that she needed a permit to do so.
"She begged me when she passed away that she didn't have enough insurance to bury her, and I don't have it. And she said, 'Will you promise me to bury me in your yard so I'll be close,’” Jackson told the station.
“She considered me as a daughter she never had. She said, 'You're the daughter I never had. I want to be close to you,' and I finally agreed to do it to satisfy her.”
The two women first met years ago while attending church in the South.
Jackson told the Lewiston Sun Journal that her friend offered her a place to live when she first moved to Maine and that she wanted to repay that favor when her pal asked to live with her when she fell ill about four years ago.
When she did pass, Jackson - who has a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - did exactly as her friend asked.
"I put her in a tarp... I dragged her out there," Jackson told WMTV.
She said she doesn’t yet know if she is facing any charges but that if she had known she needed a permit, she would have gotten one.