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Wife Kept Body for 7 Months After Death

July 19, 2001|DOUGLAS HABERMAN and GENE MADDAUS | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

After a Rancho Cucamonga bartender was told by a patron that her dead husband had been decomposing in their house for the last seven months, sheriff's deputies searched the residence and found the body on the floor of the master bedroom.

The San Bernardino County sheriff's homicide bureau and coroner's officials went to the home Tuesday night and examined the body of Danny Thatcher Harbin, 56.

"They don't see any signs of foul play," sheriff's spokeswoman Robin Haynal said.

Harbin's wife, whose name wasn't released, was questioned and released, Haynal said.

"We have no idea at this point why the wife kept the body in the house for so long," Haynal said.

Harbin had been a terminal cancer patient, authorities said. The coroner's office will conduct an autopsy this week.

The body was found in an advanced stage of decomposition and mummification, officials said.

The wife was drinking at about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday when she mentioned that her husband had died seven months earlier, but was still in the house. The bartender immediately called the Sheriff's Department.

Bill and Donna Gonzales, who live across the street, said Harbin, a supervisor for an envelope company, was diagnosed with cancer about 1 1/2 years ago. He died in December. Gonzales and his wife said they used to visit the Harbins. But after Danny Harbin died, his wife discouraged the visits.

"Her behavior changed since Danny died," Donna Gonzales said. "She stayed in the house most of the time and always had the air conditioner on. She would run from the house in the morning."

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