A woman left her husband's body rotting in a bedroom of their home because she thought he would rise from the dead, a Hamilton court heard Monday.
Kaling Wald pleaded guilty to Coroner’s Act charges of failing to notify police or the coroner that Peter Wald had died from an illness that wasn’t being treated. She received a suspended sentence and an order to get counselling as well as 18 months probation.
The macabre case first came to light back in January, when the woman was arrested and charged with neglect of duty regarding a dead body and indignity to a body.
The two charges were withdrawn and replaced with the single charge under the Coroner's Act.
The sheriff found the 51-year-old’s body while trying to evict Wald and his family from their St. Matthews Avenue home in the city’s north end last year.
Regional coroner Dr. Jack Stanborough told CBC news in a previous interview that Wald’s body was found in an “advanced state of decomposition” when it was discovered in an upstairs bedroom.
“Evidence suggests he’d been dead for weeks, if not months,” Stanborough said.
'He's in God's hands now'
Wald died around March 20, 2013, according to summary of the case's facts provided by Crown counsel Janet Booy. He had diabetes and was suffering from a foot infection, she wrote. Neighbours in the area told CBC News that Wald had been seen hobbling for some time before he stopped being seen in public.
When neighbours asked his wife about him, all she would say was he “was in God’s hands now.” Wald refused to go to hospital, court heard Monday. "He believed God would cure him," Booy wrote.
Neighbours described Wald as a deeply religious but kind man. He could be seen driving through Hamilton in a blue Astro van adorned with religious symbols and sayings. He could also be seen wearing clothing with religious-themed writing on it.
Both lawyers in the case agreed that Kaling Wald had no ill intent, according to the Hamilton Spectator.
"We were trusting God … we thought, 'OK Lord, you know better,'" Wald told the Spectator.
Wald thought her husband went into a coma "sometime in March and eventually died, probably around March 20, 2013," Booy wrote.
Wald slept in the bed with her husband for one night, just before he died. Then she noticed his stomach was bloating and rigor mortis was setting in on his forehead, court documents show.
After he died, his wife sealed off the room so the smell of the body wouldn’t permeate through the rest of the house, where she was still living with her six children.
"Kaling and her five children who resided in the house are devout Christians and thought Peter would be resurrected and therefore kept the door locked and waited for him to come to life," Booy wrote. "There were also friends who resided at the house. They all prayed on a daily basis for Peter to come back to life."
No criminal activity or public health concerns: coroner
Wald’s body sat in the room until September, when the sheriff came to evict them from the home after they defaulted on the mortgage.
Health officials and police were called in, but the body had decomposed to the point that it was impossible to confirm a cause of death.
Stanborough said the body was in an “advanced state of decomposition.” Wald was found covered with two blankets and a toque on his head. His feet were sticking out from underneath the blankets, and there was gauze wrapped around his left foot.
According to a pathologist’s report, Wald died “likely from natural causes.”
“There was nothing in the examination that would suggest criminal activity or public health concerns," Stanborough said in a previous interview.
The Children’s Aid Society was previously called in, but found no concerns for the children's well-being and the case was closed, the Spectator reported.