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Twins Found Dead

March 8, 2012 by staff 

Twins Found Dead, It took 11 days and the help of dozens of strangers, but police have finally been able to locate the family of a pair of reclusive twin sisters who were found dead in their California home last month.

Patricia and Joan Miller lived for nearly 40 years in South Lake Tahoe but often shunned their neighbors. Their shared life ended in a mysterious double-death. Police found one sister in a bedroom, and the other in a hallway during a routine welfare check on Feb. 26. They were 73.

Police usually do not release the names of the dead without first informing their relatives, but the sisters’ shrouded lives made that impossible, said Detective Matt Harwood with the El Dorado County sheriff’s office. With little information about the twins’ personal lives to work from, investigators issued a public plea this week asking for help in notifying the sisters’ next of kin.

The response was overwhelming. Emails and phone calls poured in and with the help of amateur genealogists who read media accounts of the sisters’ deaths, investigators tracked down a first cousin and two second cousins late Wednesday.

The cousins hadn’t heard from the sisters in years.

“They confirmed pretty much what everyone else told me,” Harwood said. “They were pretty reclusive and no one really knows why.”

Harwood said the cousins told him they had lost touch with the sisters through the years as other family members passed away.

“They were just sort of the twins that no one had heard from in a long time,” he said.

The cousins don’t share the sisters’ last name, which might be why police had such a hard time finding them. They were tracked down by at-home sleuths, who passed on the family members’ contact information to police. In one case, someone called one of the cousins to confirm their blood line before giving the name to Harwood.

Harwood said the sisters deserved to have their family know about their death, and he was pleased to complete that mission with help from “people from across the country, just your Average Joe wanting to try their hand on genealogy,” he said.

“There’s no way we could have done it without you guys in the press and literally hundreds of people just calling to help put the pieces together,” Harwood said.

One of the second cousins lives in the San Francisco Bay area, and the two other cousins live in Portland, Ore., where the twins grew up.

Harwood said he has yet to find a will, but plans to give some of the twins’ personal items, including their mother’s furniture and family photo albums, to the cousins.

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