A wife is believed to have killed her husband, wrapped his body in plastic in their garden and kept it secret for 18 years.
The mystery skeleton found in plastic sheets in a quiet village have been identified as missing husband John Sabine last seen in 1997.
His body was found last month just three weeks after his own wife Leigh Ann Sabine died aged 74 from cancer.
Detectives investigating the grim discovery say his wife is the ‘main suspect’ in their probe.
Mrs Sabine had carried on living in the same apartment block in Beddau, near Pontypridd, South Wales, since her husband was last seen in 1997.
His body was found in plastic wrapping in the street called Trem-Y-Cwm three weeks after her death.
Detective Chief Inspector Gareth Morgan said: ‘This is an extraordinary set of circumstances and we are working tirelessly to put together the pieces of what is a complex investigation.’
Police say John Sabine, understood to have been a local fireman would now have been 85 years of age.
Mr Sabine was never reported as a missing person despite not being seen for 18 years – and was still listed on the electoral register as living at the same house.
Police later revealed the couple had ‘estranged children’ who did not list Mr Sabine as being missing.
A spokesman said: ‘Their estranged children have been located and informed. Mr Sabine was not reporteed as being missing. The circumstances of where the body was concealed is part of the ongoing investigation.’
A police spokesman said: ‘He is believed to have moved to Trem-Y-Cwm with his wife Leigh Ann Sabine in February 1997.
‘DNA evidence has confirmed the identity of Mr Sabine, who was last seen in 1997.
‘Mrs Sabine passed away on 30th October 2015 and is currently the main suspect in this investigation.’
A post-mortem examination established John Sabine had injuries consistent with an assault.
Neighbours are believed to have found the human remains in grounds at the apartment block.
DCI Morgan said: ‘We would appreciate hearing from anyone who knew John and Leigh Sabine and who may have socialised with them or met them back in 1996-1997.
‘We would also appeal directly to the community in and around Trem-Y-Cwm to contact us with any information they may have in relation to the plastic wrapping that Mr Sabine was concealed in.’
Police confirmed the body was lying above ground but was wrapped in plastic sheeting.
Neighbour Violet Scott, 75, said: ‘It is a complete mystery but I cannot believe the body has been there for all these years.’
Ms Scott added: ‘Leigh was a very talkative and outgoing woman but it is hard to comprehend what has happened.
‘I didn’t know her husband but I know he was a fireman and we all thought he died a dozen or so years ago.
‘It could be that she kept his body in her home and then decided to move it when she knew her own end was close.
‘It was found on ground between two of the flats next to her home. I can’t believe it has been there for all these years.
‘Leigh could be very straightforward but it is difficult to think she could have killed someone. She had another man living for for a few years but he left – I don’t know what happened to him.
‘I asked Leigh if she would ever go back to New Zealand. But she told me: ‘No – I could never leave here.’
Police confirmed Mrs Sabine died of cancer and her death was not being investigated by the coroner. Her funeral has already taken place.
A local hairdresser, who asked not to be named, told MailOnline: ‘We couldn’t believe the police announcement.
‘We all knew her. She would come in here and even used to bring us presents at Christmas. We called her “Mad Leigh” because she had her funny ways.
‘She had a heart of gold though. She is the last person you would expect to be accused of something like this.
‘We knew she had had a husband, and that they were separated. We thought that he had gone away.
‘We found out she was ill and sent her a message to the hospital she was at telling her we were all thinking of her. The next day we were told she had died.’
Another neighbour added: ‘I’ve never been into her home or had her to visit me but I saw her in the street and said hello. She was always saying “hello darling”, like some people talk.
‘I knew that she had come here from Australia or New Zealand. I didn’t know her husband as I moved in after he was gone.’
Local resident Sharon Rowlands, 42, added: ‘It is terrible to think what has gone on – without any of us knowing. We had no idea there was a dead body there until police arrived.’