A Georgia woman circulated photos and information on Facebook for seven months about her brother’s disappearance in Troy, Illinois, begging the public for help in finding him.

Turns out, the 53-year-old man may have never left his house.

Richard Maedge’s body was found Sunday, Dec. 11 in a storage room with a door hidden behind clothes in a crowded closet under a stairway, according to Jennifer Maedge, his wife of 19 years.

“I decided to put the Christmas tree up, and I was looking for a tote of Christmas ornaments, and that’s when I discovered him,” she said Tuesday. “… He had committed suicide.”

Marilyn Toliver, Richard Maedge’s sister, is now blaming Troy Police Department for what she maintains was a shoddy investigation. She noted that officers were called to his home on Oak Street at least twice, first after Jennifer reported Richard missing on April 27 and later when she noticed a bad smell.

The family held Richard Maedge’s funeral on Monday at Friedens United Church of Christ in Troy. That evening, Marilyn Toliver and her husband, Van Toliver, went to the Troy City Council meeting to complain.

“I need answers from the police chief,” Marilyn Toliver said in an interview Tuesday. “I need answers from the mayor. How is this even possible?

“Mistakes were made, and I want answers. If it means filing a complaint and going all the way to the governor, I will. I’m not going away. I’m just now beginning to say stuff out loud. I should have been screaming from the beginning, but I was suckered in by the police department saying they were doing their job and looking for him.”

Troy Police Brent Shownes didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment, nor did Troy Mayor David Nonn.

An X marks the location on East Oak Street in Troy, where Richard Maedge lived with his wife, Jennifer. His body was found in the home Dec. 11. The case is under investigation.

Case under investigation

Last week, Shownes reported in a news release that Richard Maedge had been found dead about 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11. He declined to provide details, noting that the case was under investigation.

The Madison County Coroner’s Office later performed an autopsy, according to Chief Deputy Coroner Kelly Rogers.

“We’re still waiting on (toxicology and other test) results,” he said Tuesday. “It would be premature for us to issue a cause of death without everything sitting in front of us.”

Marilyn Toliver said even neighbors and the mailman had reported a bad smell coming from the house and that her sister-in-law initially thought her freezer went out. Jennifer Maedge said a plumber called it an “ammonia smell” and police told her she might have sewer problems.

Jennifer Maedge isn’t blaming police, saying officers wouldn’t have known about the hidden closet when they searched the house and that the smell was “never overpowering.”

After Richard Maedge disappeared, his son, Austin Maedge, said his father could have been depressed over a “family drama.”

According to Marilyn Toliver, she and her brother were fighting a legal battle against their other sister to get guardianship of their father, John Maedge, who had dementia. John Maedge died in August.

“We were in a serious family conflict,” said Marilyn Tolliver, 62, a bank teller who lives in Bainbridge, Georgia. “It was terrible.”

Richard Maedge, who was found dead on Dec. 11, is shown in happier times with his sister, Marilyn Toliver, who lives in Georgia. At right, a missing person’s flyer she had posted on Facebook.

Richard Maedge, who was found dead on Dec. 11, is shown in happier times with his sister, Marilyn Toliver, who lives in Georgia. At right, a missing person’s flyer she had posted on Facebook.

Durango parked on street

Richard Maedge was employed by Challenge Unlimited, an Alton-based organization that provides training and job opportunities for people with disabilities. He formerly worked at the Winchester ammunition plant in East Alton.

Jennifer Maedge, 49, a caregiver, said she last heard from her husband on April 26, when he told her he was leaving work early because he didn’t feel well. When she got home, his Dodge Durango was parked on the street next to the house.

“I thought maybe he just walked away, maybe he just needed to get away for awhile,” Jennifer Maedge said Tuesday.

In the months that followed, Marilyn Toliver posted dozens of notices about her brother’s disappearance on Facebook and established a GoFundMe campaign, writing that Jennifer Maedge was struggling to make mortgage payments. The campaign raised $1,515 of a $5,000 goal.

Marilyn Toliver said she and her husband repeatedly called Troy Police Department with questions and tips and never got the impression that detective were looking that hard for Richard Maedge.

At the Troy City Council meeting on Monday night, Van Toliver asked why only patrol officers, not detectives, searched the Maedge home. On Tuesday, he called the case “suspicious” because he believes the smell should have flagged attention.

“My brother was missing for 229 days,” Marilyn Toliver added. “I find that unacceptable.”

Earlier this year, Austin Maedge described his father as a big St. Louis Blues and St. Louis Cardinals fan who liked to watch games at a local bar.

Richard Maedge was born in Belleville, according to his obituary on the website of Richeson Funeral Home in Troy. He had two sons, Austin and Zack Maedge, a stepdaughter, Amber Maedge, and three grandchildren.

“He was the ultimate ‘Mr. Fix It,’ very creative with mechanical design and repair,” the obituary stated. “He enjoyed watching the Blues Hockey, Cardinals Baseball and NASCAR. He loved his family and the times they spent together.”

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