South Carolina man left bodies of mom, aunt in home for years

South Carolina News

CLOVER, S.C. (WSOC) – A disturbing discovery was recently made at a South Carolina home.

Deputies were doing a welfare check at a home in Clover when they found three bodies inside. Two of the victims died years ago.

Police say Thomas Gardner, known as Stephen to family, died by suicide in July, and the other two people, his mother and aunt, died of natural causes in 2015 and 2016.

Sue Gardner, Thomas’ mother, lived in the home with her sister Ruth. When Sue passed away, Ruth called Thomas and asked that he not report his mother’s death out of fear she would have to live in a nursing home, according to police.

“He lost somebody he loved so much that was close to him,” April Kay, Thomas’ cousin, said. “I think he just broke emotionally. I think it shattered him so much emotionally.”

Thomas kept the secret until Ruth passed away as well. He kept both women’s bodies inside the home for years, visited regularly and used their social security checks to pay bills and keep up the home.

Thomas shot himself in the same home in July.

“He was not a bad person,” Kay said. “He was not a monster. He was not evil. He was just trying to figure out how to take care of his family.”

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