Sky burials are a funeral practice in Tibet and Mongolia, where vultures and birds of prey consume human remains.
Sky burials are a funeral practice in Tibet and Mongolia, where vultures and birds of prey consume human remains. Wikicommons

Widow Ila Solomon kept her husband's decomposing body at home, claiming his last wish was to be eaten by birds.

Solomon could face charges after the body of 88-year-old Gerald Gavan was discovered at their home in May.

In an interview with RTV6, Solomon showed the news crew where the World War II veteran had died.

"I just think that somebody who did so much for the United States should have the death he wanted, that's all. He just wanted to be eaten by the birds to be part of the cycle of life," she told newsnet5.

"Plan number two would be for me to take him outside or him to die outside so that the birds could eat him here, but that didn't happen, instead he died right there."

She claims Gavan wanted to be part of an Indian ritual in which vultures eat the human remains after death.

Sky burial is a practice common in Tibet. The priest cuts the human corpse into small pieces and then places it on top of a mountain, exposing it ritually – especially to birds of prey. Sky burial was also common in some Native American cultures and in older Zoroastrian practices.

Trying to fulfil her husband's wishes, Soloman said she left a side door open in the hope that birds would come into the house and eat his corpse.

But following Mr Gavan's death she failed to notify the authorities, violating state law.

"I know I did commit failure to report and that is a crime. I don't know if they'll charge me with failure to report or not," Solomon said.

Officers with the Lafayette Police Department were alerted to the case and carried out an investigation. The 54-year-old widow claimed that the body was there for five days, however the coroner discovered that the body had decomposed for at least nine months and the cause of death was unknown.

In what is understood to be Gavan's last will and testament, it states that the 88-year-old wanted a traditional burial. His widow claims that written documents show that her husband wanted to be eaten by birds in India. Lafayette police are in possession of the document.

Solomon was cashing money that was continuing to be paid to her dead spouse, but now the widow has taken out a loan against her life insurance to pay the money back.