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They seemed out of place, like they had been imported there from another world. In Wales in the late 1970s, seeing two identical black girls standing on the side of the road, was not a common sight. The teenaged twins were neatly dressed and hardly showed any emotion. Their collective gaze was cast downwards and when they moved in a perfectly choreographed rhythm. One would walk behind the other and their arms would hang along their sides.
A white Mini drove up to the side of the road, a brown-haired woman jumped out and walked up to the girls. It was clear that they recognized her, she was their teacher. Cathy Arthur worked at Eastgate Centre for Special Education in Pembroke and took a special interest in the Gibbons sisters. Every morning she would collect them from the bus stop and drive them to school. But there was a problem… As the passenger-side only had one door, the sisters could never decide who should go first. Cathy had to guide them, ushering them inside, one after the other.
Thanks to the years of research by journalist Marjorie Wallace, incidents like these provide an insight into the strange case of the twins who refused to speak to anyone but each other. This is the story of June and Jennifer Gibbons – The Silent Twins…
Gloria and Aubrey Gibbons met at work. Gloria was a couple of years older than Aubrey, and had a job as a telephone operator at Seawell Airport in Barbados. She never passed her final exams at school, and wasn’t much fussed with academics. After high school she took a course in typing and bookkeeping and knew she would always have work.
Aubrey came from a large family and knew hardship as he had lost two siblings and his mother before he was 18-years-old. He had received a scholarship at Harrison College – a prestigious high school, modelled on British schools and was known to be a bright and fastidious student. He was able to find employment as a meteorological assistant at Seawell Airport, straight after leaving school.
The couple married on the 8th of December 1955. Sadly their first baby passed away, but they were blessed with another baby in 1957, a girl they called Greta. They also had a son, David, who was two years younger.
Many Commonwealth citizens relocated to Britain at the time, in what is referred to as the Windrush. In January 1960, the Gibbons family also moved to the UK, where Gloria’s brother already lived. Soon after his arrival, Aubrey took the required aptitude tests for the Royal Air Force (or RAF) and was accepted. Gloria, Greta and David joined him on his first assignment in England six months later.
Aubrey was a true gentleman and his education at Harrison College back in the West Indies, helped him to settle well into the RAF. He loved playing cricket and draughts and did not spend all that much time at home. Gloria’s whole life centred around her family and providing a happy home for their kids.
Aubrey’s job required the family to move around a lot. They were a military family and lived on insular army bases, often being the only black family. In 1963, the Gibbonses were stationed in the British colony of Aden in Yemen.
On the 11th of April, Gloria gave birth to identical twin girls at the base hospital. They named them June Allison and Jennifer Lorraine Gibbons. Gloria had her hands full with two small children and two babies, and no family close-by to help. But she loved being a mother and never complained.
Before the twins’ first birthday, Aubrey was transferred back to England and the family moved to Linton in Yorkshire.
Aubrey worked harder than ever and Gloria looked after the family, helping Greta and David settle into school, while caring for the twin babies, or ‘twinnies’ as she called them, at home. June and Jennifer were extremely cute: bright-eyed with fine features and shy smiles. June was older, but slightly weaker. Jennifer hit all her milestones before June: sitting, crawling, walking… June got there too, just slightly later than Jennifer.
The girls were both late to speak, which is not unusual when it comes to twins. Because they do not need words to communicate with each other at that age, they do not feel the urgent need to start speaking.
Once June and Jennifer started to form words, it was evident that they shared a speech impediment. Gloria was concerned and found it challenging to communicate with her daughters. The two girls would always look at each other for affirmation and found solace in the fact that they understood each other. Their parents thought it was simply a twin-thing and hoped that it would come right.
In 1968, Aubrey and Gloria had their fifth child, a daughter, Rosie. Around this time, June and Jennifer started primary school. At school, teachers found them to be rather strange. They would speak to each other, sometimes to other kids, but never to teachers. It was noted that they were very shy, but some teachers felt that it was not their shyness that prevented them from speaking. They did not know what it was, as they had never encountered anyone like the Gibbons sisters before.
The school insisted the girls went for speech therapy, hoping that this would resolve the issue. Both girls went for weekly sessions, but it didn’t seem to help much. They did not do the required exercises at home and Gloria was still of the belief that they were simply a little slow and would catch up eventually.
In 1971, because of Aubrey’s job, the family moved yet again, this time to Devon. The school in Linton was quietly relieved to see the twins go. June and Jennifer were eight-and-a-half years old by the time they arrived in Devon. Settling into the new environment was difficult. Not only were they new, but they were the only black kids in their school year, so they were isolated and ostracised.
This caused them to withdraw into their insular relationship even more. Whereas they would sometimes speak to children at their previous school, in Devon, they had stopped doing so too. School reports of this time said that both girls were reading and writing well, but they refused to speak.
Before long, the twins did not interact with other people at all. When they spoke, nobody understood, so they were asked to repeat themselves all the time. They found it terribly frustrating, so decided to stop speaking to other people altogether. So, they added another thing to the list for bullies.
After three years of little progress in the speech department, the family were uprooted once again. Aubrey was promoted to assistant air traffic controller at the RAF base in Brawdy. So, in 1974 the Gibbons family settled in Haverfordwest, Wales.
The twins were 11-years-old and did not reach out to anyone. They even withdrew communication from their family. Gloria and their older siblings would hear them converse to each other behind their closed bedroom door, but that was it. Their spoken language evolved into a modified version of Creole, that only the two of them understood.
The only family member who had the privilege of speaking with them, was their younger sister, Rosie. The three of them shared a room and would play make-believe games with their dolls and soft-toys. They recorded themselves acting out the different scenarios, then gave the tapes to their sister Rosie to keep.
When it was time for high school, the twins were sent to Haverfordwest Secondary School with their older brother David. As was the case at most of their previous chapters, the Gibbons kids were the only black children in town and all of them felt different. Being black in rural Wales, at high school, in the 1970s was challenging, to say the least.
June and Jennifer also behaved strangely, they would never look anyone in the eye when they were being talked to. They had a way of staring out in front of them and looking through people. None of their teachers had ever encountered anything like it. The sisters’ zombie-like demeanour unnerved everyone who came in contact with them. They never ate at school, or anywhere in public, and never went to the restroom there either. Whispers that they were possessed or that they had supernatural powers were doing the rounds at school.
The Gibbons sisters were weird black twins who didn’t speak and acted bizarrely. Hunting season for bullies was open so insults and racial slurs were constantly hurled their way. Sometimes the bullying was physical, but the girls never reacted much. Teachers were so concerned about the twins, that they allowed them to leave 5 minutes early every day, to give them a head-start so they could avoid contact with bullies on their way home.
Their school work was always done and they did okay in their studies. They kept to themselves and didn’t cause disruptions, so their case was not referred to a welfare officer. When doctor John Rees visited the school to administer vaccinations, he met the girls and after observing their behaviour briefly, he felt that they were in need of specialised care.
Dr Rees paid Aubrey and Gloria a visit and they agreed that the twins isolated themselves, but they downplayed the speech problem. They suspected the girls were tongue-tied and although their GP had referred them to a specialist, they had not followed up. Dr Rees asked Gloria if she ever had trouble breastfeeding the girls. She did not. He concluded that, if they had in fact been tongue-tied, there is no way they would have been able to breastfeed without problems. The hope that an operation could fix the problem was dashed.
As they got older, the twins withdrew even further into their own world. They had been seen by specialists and therapists, none of which could give a clear diagnosis about what was wrong. The Gibbons sisters were referred to by most people who knew them as ‘The Silent Twins’. Over time their idioglossia became more and more unintelligible. Idioglossia is a made-up language only spoken by one or very few people.
It is a common occurrence in twins, so much so, it is also referred to as twin-talk. But usually it is used for twins to speak with each other, while they still communicate with others in a normal way. It does not stint social interaction, but in the case of The Gibbons twins, their ideoglossia was their primary language. Linguists have linked Idioglossia with Cryptophasia. This is the use of a secret language, but also mirroring each other’s actions.
They were taken to a child psychiatrist who said that they were ‘elective mutes’. That means they could speak, they were able and capable, but they chose not to. It is common for twins to speak late, but elective muteness in twins is not so common.
Gloria told the doctors that they shared a speech impediment, but because the girls would not speak and were reluctant to answer psychologists’ questions it was almost impossible to determine if they had an impediment or not.
Their school struggled to educate them, as they had never encountered children like the Gibbons twins before. They kept to themselves and were secretive. Teachers and other pupils assumed that, even though they could read and write English, they COULD not speak it.
They were not talking to any members of their family anymore. They even refused to eat dinner around the family table. When watching television, they would sit on the stairs in the hallway and peep through the open door to the living room. If one of their parents or siblings came out of the living room, the twins would scuttle back to their bedroom.
Their school felt that the girls needed extra help and insisted they were sent to Eastgate Centre for Special Education in Pembroke. It was a boarding school, about a half an hour away from the Gibbons family home.
At Eastgate, they were required to eat in the canteen, along with everyone else. They ate painfully slow and were always made to stay behind to finish their meals. They wouldn’t talk, just sit, staring blankly, taking food from plate to mouth, neatly on a fork. First one sister, then the other in a rhythmic pattern that repeated itself.
Sometimes, they would take turns breathing. When they woke up in the morning, one sister had to breathe the first breath, then the other one would follow. A strange game that only the two of them knew about.
Years later, June said that they were always playing games, copying each other. She explained further:
“It started as a game. But the longer it went on the more trapped we felt. It went too far and although we longed to be normal we couldn't break out. We tried to get back to the outside world but it was too late. We were twins but our personalities clashed.”
Cathy Arthur was a special needs teacher and she was determined to get through to the girls. She asked a colleague who came from the West Indies, to record some questions on tape. She pressed play, then record on another device and left the room. At first there was silence. Questions like ‘Am I married?’ and ‘Have I got kids?’ went unanswered. That is until the very end, when one of the girls very clearly said:
“What can we say?”
The other one answered:
“God knows, God knows.”
What this exercise proved was that the girls understood questions and that they could speak. They just didn’t WANT to.
In time, they were able to record more audio from the girls’ conversations. The conversations were recorded when Cathy left the room and the twins were alone. Cathy listened to all the tapes and realised that what they spoke was NOT a made-up language at all. It was English, spoken very quickly, with some syllables in staccato-style. Elements of a Barbadian or Bajan Creole accent also filtered through.
By the time the twins were 14 years old, despite multiple therapists encouraging them to speak with others, they were still uncommunicative. Staff at Eastgate felt it was time to split up the twins and trial how they would function as individuals. The twins themselves admitted that, when they were together, their behaviour was strange. Psychologists and teachers said that the girls had to decide who would leave Eastgate, and who would stay behind.
It was an interesting move, because, for the first time the sisters had the power to decide their own future. It evoked tremendous emotion from the girls. They fought, vocally, shouting out loud at each other about their separation. Sometimes both girls wanted to stay, other times both wanted to go. Their fights were violent and physical, with scratching and pulling each other’s hair… Staff separated them and calmed them down.
When it was time to split up, the twins had decided that Jennifer would stay at Eastgate, while June would go to St David’s Adolescent Unit in Cardiff – an hour and a half away. For the first time in their lives, the twins were living away from each other.
During the separation, both Jennifer and June became catatonic and unresponsive to the outside world. They did not eat or sleep and they cried all the time. June was found one morning, sitting at the end of her bed, looking down at the floor, tears and mucus drooping down from her chin. The separation proved to do more harm than good and the sisters were reunited at Eastgate.
Because the twins were always quiet, always together and mirrored each other’s actions, it was believed that theirs was a bond of unshakeable loyalty and closeness. But the older they got, the more evident it became that the relationship was strained. The relationship was clearly a controlling one, suffocating even. One thing wasn’t clear though: who was in control? There was a brooding resentment towards each other, growing stronger every day.
In Jennifer’s diary, she wrote:
“Somewhere, I have a real twin in the world. June can’t be my real twin. My real twin was born the exact time as me, has my rising sign, my looks, my ways, my dreams, my ambitions. He or she will have my weaknesses, failures, opinions… All this makes a twin: no differences. I can’t stand differences. June hasn’t got my mind, my looks, not even my build. My mother once measured us and said that I was slightly taller than June. I was not exactly pleased.”
Special needs teacher, Cathy Arthur, realised that June would possibly cope better if she were on her own, but Jennifer had almost no inner resources. Other therapists believed it was the other way around. One psychologist had to admit that he found it difficult to tell them apart, because they were so committed to mimicking each other’s actions, which was indistinguishable mechanic and robotic movements, without any emotion.
But behind the apathetic appearance, the sisters had become mortal enemies. June once wrote in her diary:
“She wants us to be equal. There is a murderous gleam in her eye. Dear Lord, I am scared if her. She is not normal. Someone is driving her insane. It’s me.”
Jennifer’s diary shows that she felt trapped in the relationship with her twin:
"We have become fatal enemies in each other’s eyes. We feel the irritating deadly rays come out of our bodies, stinging each other's skin. I say to myself, can I get rid of my own shadow, impossible or not possible? Without my shadow, would I die? Without my shadow, would I gain life, be free or left to die? Without my shadow, which I identify with a face of misery, deception, murder."
When they were 16, they left Eastgate and dropped out of school altogether. They moved back home. Rosie was 11 by this time and the twins moved into their own room. Greta and David had moved out of the house and the twins were not talking to Rosie anymore. They spent most of their time in their room together. They found pen pals all over the world, and wrote to them as friends. They had no other friends and never socialised, they were completely isolated.
They were on the doll, so they had some money. They found out about a course that they could take from home, a course on The Art of Conversation. They decided that they would start communication with their family and see where it went. Unfortunately, the course was for people who were already capable of actually speaking out loud. So tips like: be friendly, or compliment someone, was beyond what they were yearning to learn. They literally needed to learn how one would start talking to another person. They did try, but found it very difficult and gave it up.
They wrote stories, and lived vicariously through the characters that they created. Dolls were used as actors and they never left their bedroom, creating dramatic plays – soap opera style. They would write a note to their mother, Gloria, giving her instructions about meals. She was to leave it in front of their bedroom door and leave. Gloria did not quite know what to make of it, but was happy that they were still eating, so went along with it.
While closed into their room, Gloria often heard them talking to each other and giggling. She brought them food and ‘posted’ their mail to them by sliding it under the door. The self-imposed imprisonment may sound depressing, but because they were never alone and the atmosphere was upbeat, the situation wasn’t that bad. They were two teenagers who were – for all intents and purposes – mute. They communicated to the outside world through their writing, and they spoke to each other.
For Christmas 1979, they were each given a leather bounded diary. They wrote in it for hours on end. They wrote in English and clearly had a very solid command of the language. Their handwriting was very small, hardly legible, almost like a code in itself.
They enrolled in a distance learning writing course and both of them wrote proper full-length novels. The favourite backdrop for their novels was Malibu, California. The characters often displayed strange and even criminal behaviour.
They used a self-publishing press called New Horizons to release their books, as they didn’t have much luck with publishing houses. They used their unemployment benefit money to pay for the publishing. The first novel to be published was one of June’s, Pepsi Cola Addict.
In the book, a high-school protagonist is seduced by a teacher. As a result of this he is sent to reform school, where he is seduced again, this time by a homosexual guard. The next book to be released, was Jennifer’s The Pugilist, in which a doctor is so desperate to save his child’s life, that he kills the family dog and uses its heart to save his son. The spirit of the dog lives in the child and eventually he takes revenge on his physician father.
1981 the twins celebrated their 18th birthday. They had had enough of their hermit lifestyle and took the leap to go out more often. During their time at Eastgate, they had met an American boy, the son of a US Naval officer.
The twins looked him up and learnt that he had gone back to the States, but that he had three younger brothers who still lived in Wales. June and Jennifer became quite infatuated with the American teens. They dressed up and went over to visit the boys, pretty much every day. In part, they loved the boys for where they were from – the twins had been obsessed with all-things-American for a while – as can be seen in their writing.
This summer was life-altering for the sisters, as they were reaching out to people other than themselves. But the boys were a bad influence and the Gibbons girls, coming from absolutely no social interaction, were exposed to sex, drugs and alcohol. The twins lost their virginity two weeks apart – to the same boy. June was made to watch Jennifer when she had sex with one of the brothers in a church, after the three of them got drunk. Two weeks later, it was June’s turn, this time in a barn on the property where the brothers lived.
The boys called the Gibbons sisters losers and abused them, but the girls were in love and always went back for more. It was very destructive to both June and Jennifer who had a romanticised view of relationships and passion. If they wanted true love – they were looking in the wrong place.
Jennifer and June competed for the attention of the boys, so their relationship was worse than it had ever been. Jennifer wrote in her diary how she tried to kill her sister, she tried to strangle her with the wire of the radio, but didn’t succeed. When June saw an opportunity a couple of days later, she pushed Jennifer into the river and tried to drown her, but she also didn’t succeed.
One day, the twins and one of the brothers were hanging out next to a stream. The boy took the wig off Jennifer’s head and aimed to throw it in the river, but it was caught in a breeze in landed in some cow dung. He took a match and set the wig alight. The three of them watched in wonder as it went up in flames. The incident sparked something dangerous in the twisted threesome and from then on all they could talk about was crime. They dreamed about committing arson, vandalising property and stealing things.
The two sisters hated each other, but they were happy. For the first time they were out in the world, living some semblance of what they perceived to be ‘a normal life’. But this wouldn’t last. The brothers told them that they were moving back to America and suddenly, the twins withdrew back into their old isolated bubble. But it seemed worse this time around, because by then they had been exposed to the real world and realised what they had been missing out on all their lives.
In the fall, they came out of their room once more. They started taking to the streets at night – as June described it – ‘looking for trouble’. They committed a string of crimes. Most of the crimes were petty, like stealing, or vandalism, but when they burnt down a tractor store in town, they could no longer be ignored. A fireman was badly injured trying to contain the fire.
In her diary June boasted that she was ‘The Arsonist of Haverfordwest’ and described her crime in detail, also implicating Jennifer. Pyromania is an impulse control disorder. People like the Gibbons twins who committed arson purely for the pleasure it gave them, find a release of tension in watching their handiwork. It is an expression of sorts, a cry for help.
They attempted to start a second fire at the Technical School and vandalised the building. They were caught in the act and arrested on the spot. The sisters were kept in remand in Bristol for six months. Their diary entries in the period awaiting their trial, showed that they had become bitter adversaries. Yet, they could not bear the thought of being apart. June wrote:
“I really aim to be alone. Yet, I am deceiving myself. Can I stand being alone? My heart does not beat so fast now. It only beats fast when [Jennifer] is around.”
On advice of their legal representative, they pleaded guilty to 16 counts of burglary, theft and arson in the Swansea Court in May 1982.
It was presented to the court that the girls had psychopathic personality disorder and that they posed a danger to society.
It was quite a shock when the girls were admitted to Broadmoor Hospital for the criminally insane in 1982. It is an institution near London that is Britain’s most notorious maximum-security facility. In the 1980s Broadmoor housed criminals like The Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe and one of the Kray Brothers, Ronald and serial killer Kenneth Erskine.
When they were taken in, they were 19 years old. At the time, the sisters were the youngest ever inmates. They were sentenced for an indefinite period, which was rather tough, as they had no idea if they would ever be free again. In the end, they stayed At Broadmoor for 11 years.
The twins weren’t scared. They saw their placement at Broadmoor as an opportunity to heal, to separate from each other and walk out as two individuals. They had a romanticised idea about what it would be like, June’s diary said how she felt about going to Broadmoor:
“I see myself in the hospital gardens in a beautiful, peaceful part of England. Nurses are watering the coloured flowers and I am sitting in a deck chair with a cool glass of lemonade in my hands. I am happy. I shall be taken to the land of hope and glory. There I shall stand in my flowered skirt and black jacket, aged 19 years. And one day I will look back on that day… And what will I think? All I will see is my sister and me, as vulnerable as flowers in hell. Unimportant, yet important.”
Broadmoor was not quite as idyllic as June had imagined, it is an imposing brick building with bars in front of the windows. Living quarters are sparsely furnished and rigid.
The facility was far away from the twins’ home in Wales, and although Aubrey and Gloria made the trip to visit as often as they could, for the most part, the girls were alone. Aubrey cringed at the thought of his daughters living and socialising with hardened criminals, but could only hope and pray they were kept safe and protected each other. As for the psychiatric care… Aubrey and Gloria trusted that their daughters were receiving treatment and felt comforted by the fact that someone was finally helping their daughters.
At Broadmoor, the sisters were allocated separate cells on opposite sides of the building, but it looked identical. Within days of their arrival, June tried to end her own life. Jennifer attacked a member of staff in a hysterical outburst.
As they settled in, the strange behaviour they exhibited as children, continued. They would take turns to eat and to fast. Only one of them would eat for two days, while the other one wouldn’t touch her food. Then they would swap. This they did without having any contact or communication with each other. Staff reported that they would find the sisters in their separate rooms, frozen, in exactly the same position.
It was like they had the same mind, but two separate bodies. They seemed to operate like two incompatible parts of a whole. Incompatible, because they really did not want to be part of a single unit, each of them wanted to be their own person, but they simply could not see how they could make it happen.
Specialists at Broadmoor felt that both sisters were deeply disturbed. They were both diagnosed with schizophrenia and the resident psychiatrist prescribed anti-psychotic medication in high doses, which affected them badly. One thing that happened though, was that they started to speak to other people. June said that they were given tranquilisers, so they lost their ‘shyness’.
Like most inmates at Broadmoor, the sisters had their IQ’s tested during their time there. The results put them way above average, some sources claim they were at genius level. Their actual scores, or whether it was the same or not, has never been made public.
Later in their sentence, they were allowed to communicate more. While living on opposite ends of the same institution, the twins wrote each other every day, so they knew exactly what was happening to the other one in her ward. They were also allowed to visit each other. Jennifer developed tardive dyskinesia, a neurological condition that causes involuntary movements, repetitively. This affected her ability to write and she gave it up altogether.
They pleaded to get released from Broadmoor. A typical juvenile sentence for the crimes they had committed would usually be about two years. But because the Gibbons sisters didn’t speak and behaved strangely, they were kept locked up indefinitely. June even wrote a letter to the Queen, begging for mercy.
During their time in Broadmoor, journalist Marjorie Wallace started researching the case of the girls. She visited them often and read all their diary entries. In the end, she concluded that the driving force for both girls was to be famous one day. That was part of the motivation for the arson, in June’s diary she noted how she had hoped she would read about it in the newspaper.
Marjorie Wallace dedicated years of her life to get closer to the girls and to understand them better. She reached out to them as fellow-writers, and spoke about their work: their short stories, their novels and then carefully started talking about their diaries. Over the years, Marjorie gained their trust and the twins talked with her.
To gain a deeper insight, the dedicated journalist also interviewed the twins’ family, teachers, educational psychologists… She spoke to anyone who could help her understand June and Jennifer better. Her book, ‘The Silent Twins’, is the definitive account of the lives of the Gibbons sisters – it was also the main resource for this episode.
Marjorie Wallace realised that the twins had made a pact: if one of them died, the other one would start speaking and live a normal life. This pact became an obsession and they decided that, in order to live a normal life, one of them HAD to die. Their diaries showed that each sister was often suspicious of the other one, thinking she was plotting to kill her.
The Gibbons sisters felt trapped in the bond of being twins and felt the only way out was if one were to die. The sisters felt that they had to decide which one of them was going to die. After many hours of deliberation, it was concluded that Jennifer would make the ultimate sacrifice.
They told Marjorie about this, and she thought they were just joking or that it was one of their games. But it wasn’t. Jennifer said to her:
“Marjorie, Marjorie… I’m going to die. We’ve decided.”
In 1993, both sisters were set to be moved to the less secure Caswell Clinic in Bridgend, back in Wales. On the way there, Jennifer slumped onto June’s shoulder, she had slipped into a mysterious sleep. When they arrived, Jennifer was unconscious and nobody could wake her up. Staff rushed her to The Princess of Wales Hospital. She was pronounced dead a short time later at 6:30pm.
June was deeply affected by the loss of her sister. She visited her twin sister’s body to say goodbye one last time. She wrote in her diary:
“Today my beloved twin sister Jennifer died. She is dead. Her heart stopped beating. She will never recognize me. Mom and Dad came to see her body. I kissed her stone-coloured face. I went hysterical with grief.”
The first post-mortem, was inconclusive. But further examination concluded that Jennifer Gibbons’ cause of death was an undiagnosed inflammation of the heart, or myocarditis. It is possible that the condition was a side-effect after years of anti-psychotic medication, but that would be rather unusual. The sisters received the same dose of medication over the years and June showed no adverse effects.
Suspicion fell on June, as she had expressly told her therapist that she had wanted to kill Jennifer. She felt that only one of them should have been born and that she could only ever live once Jennifer was gone. Diaries inscriptions like the following one, also made authorities look at her:
“Nobody suffers the way I do, not with a sister; with a husband, yes; with a wife, yes; with a child, yes, but this sister of mine, a dark shadow robbing me of sunlight, is my one and only torment."
An inquest was held and June testified that her sister had been acting strange in the days leading up to her death. Her speech slurred and she told June that she was dying. June claimed that, while they were in transit between Broadmoor and Caswell, Jennifer slept on her lap with her eyes open.
Toxicology tests showed that there was no poison or any drugs in her system. Blood tests showed a significant drop in red blood cells. In the end, the coroner ruled out foul play. 29-year-old Jennifer Gibbon’s death was as much of a mystery as her life had been.
Her funeral was held two weeks after she passed away. On her headstone is a poem, written by June.
“We once were two
We two made one
We no more two
Through life be one,
Rest in peace.”
A few days later, June said to journalist Marjorie Wallace:
“I’m free at last, and at last Jennifer has given up her life for me.”
June was held at Caswell Clinic for another year, before she was released on parole.
The twins found their bond to be a debilitating one. They could not be two parts of a whole. One was like a cancer feeding of the other. The problem is, they were both strong-willed in their own way, so it’s not like one played the role of the giver and one the role of the taker. Their whole lives were a silent dance between give and take, love and hate, happiness and misery – in the end, being twins is what destroyed them.
By 2008, 45-year-old June Gibbons lived independently near her parents’ home in Wales. She did not require psychiatric help.
2016, the twins eldest sister Greta gave an interview in which she blames Broadmoor for reckless care of Jennifer. She said that she wanted to sue them, but her parents persuaded her not to.
Every Tuesday, June visits Jennifer’s grave and takes her flowers. She said that she still sees herself as a twin, even though she is alone.
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