Man dead in home for nearly a year

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – When Joe Childes moved into his Lafayette home last August, he said 54-year-old Ila Solomon told him she was the caretaker for the man living next door.

“Perfectly normal. Extremely normal. She was always talking to us,” said Childes.

What he didn’t know was that next door, the man Solomon had been caring for was dead. According to an autopsy report, his body had been there for more than nine months. As News 18 previously reported, the body was found inside the Shawnee Avenue home May 3, was identified as 88-year-old Gerald “Scooter” Gavan.

According to Tippecanoe County Coroner Donna Avolt, Solomon said Gavan had died April 28, but the autopsy results showed different.

“The stages of decomposition, the insect activity and the condition of the body all show July 15, 2013 is far more accurate,” said Avolt.

Avolt said forensic anthropology, forensic entomology and dental records were used to identify Gavan. She said she has no doubt the 88-year-old man died last July.

“We prefer to deal in concrete facts. We like to dot our i’s and cross our t’s. So in this particular case, along with our pathologist and our investigatory team and law enforcement, we can determine that the April 28th date she has given is incorrect,” added Avolt.

However, Solomon was more than Gavan’s care taker, Lafayette Police confirm they were married in Kentucky in 2012. Gavan’s death is still under investigation.

Childes said he is still in shock that his friendly neighbor had been coming and going from the home for months.

“That’s a step above to be able to talk to me on a weekly basis and hold back that there’s a dead guy in there and has been for months,” Childes said.

News 18 tried calling Solomon several times Wednesday, but she would not return our calls.

Avolt said they won’t have a cause of death for Gavan until they get the results of the toxicology reports. But if the case goes to court, she said a forensic entomologist will testify the date of Gavan’s death was no later than July 15, 2013.

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