Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

February 20, 2020
Death unknown for man found in chest freezer

Tooele City Police may never know exactly what happened inside the Mathers’ home.

The medical examiner’s report listed the cause of death for Paul Edwards Mathers, 69, of Tooele City due to “undetermined causes,” according to a press release issued by the department on Wednesday afternoon.

On Nov. 22, 2019, Mathers’ fully intact body was found in a freezer inside his apartment after Tooele City police responded to a welfare check. A maintenance worker at the apartment complex reported he had not seen Mather’s wife, the 75-year-old resident of the apartment, for around two weeks.

Officers entered the apartment and found Jeanne Souron-Mathers, Paul Mathers’ wife, deceased on her bed.

An officer investigating the scene found Paul Mathers’ body inside a chest freezer, wrapped in a garbage bag. At the time, investigators estimated that Paul Mathers’ body had been inside the freezer somewhere between one and one-half and 11 years. 

The time of Paul Mathers’ death was later narrowed down to between Feb. 4 and March 8, 2009. Later on the date of death was estimated as between March 2 and March 5, based on information from Paul Mathers’ sister, according to the press release.

The medical examiner reported that Paul Mathers was known to have had a terminal illness, but according to the medical examiner’s report on his death, Paul Mathers died from undetermined causes.

The medical examiner’s report stated that Paul Mathers had end stage bladder cancer, for which he had only weeks to months to live in early 2009. It was also noted that his toxicology results indicated highly lethal levels of several prescription narcotics.

When he was found in the freezer, Paul Mathers’ body had a garbage bag over his head, with it tightly duct taped around his neck. The medical examiners report stated: “It is unclear whether this was secured before or after death, therefore, an asphyxial cause of death cannot be ruled out.” 

The Utah State Crime Lab processed the garbage bags for latent fingerprints, but no prints of comparable value were found.

When detectives entered the apartment on Nov. 22, 2019, a typed notarized letter was found by detectives in the entryway to the apartment. It read:

“TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: I, Paul E. Mathers, a.k.a. Paula, being of a relatively sound mind and cancer ridden body make the following statement: I am fully aware that with my heart condition the Lortabs/Hydrocodine will eventually stop my heart. It will not be deliberate as I am not ready to leave my wife, Jeanne Marie. Jeanne has foiled my actual suicide attempts.

I want it known that Jeanne is in NO way responsible for my death. Although that will be what my drama queen mother will claim. My mother, Zada Lamb, can get on with her life with-out having to acknowledge that I her first born am a T.G.”

The letter was signed “Paul E. Mathers, aka Paula E. Mathers.”

The note was notarized on Dec. 2, 2008. The notary told detectives that she doesn’t read personal letters.

The medical examiner found the cause of Jeanne Souron-Mathers’ death to be natural.

In response to a subpoena, the Department of Veterans reported that Paul Mathers received $177,325 in benefits from the estimated time of his death until the time his body was found.

Tooele City Police Sgt. Jeremy Hansen said this will be the final press release in the case.

 

Tim Gillie

Editor at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Tim has been writing for the Transcript Bulletin since October 2017. In February 2019 he was named as editor. In addition to being editor, Tim continues to write about Tooele County government, education, business, real estate, housing, politics and the state Legislature.A native of Washington state and a graduate of Central Washington University, Tim became a journalist after a 20 year career with the Boy Scouts of America.

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