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Husband arrested on suspicion of murder months after wife’s body exhumed

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Posted at 5:05 PM, Jul 01, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-02 10:17:24-04

ROY, Utah -- A Roy man was booked into the Weber County Jail Monday in connection with the death of his wife, whose body was exhumed from her grave in Bountiful earlier this year.

Roy City Police Lt. Kevin Smith said officers found 74-year-old Dennis Vance Chamberlain at a Woods Cross motel.

Authorities arrested him Monday in connection with the February 16 death of his wife, Jean Chamberlain.

Smith said actions Dennis Chamberlain had taken on the day his wife died later aroused suspicion among other family members.

“He'd called his family and he'd called the mortuary, but he failed to call any medical services and he didn't call law enforcement," Smith said.  "[He] told his family that certain people had come to the house and pronounced that his wife was dead."

But Smith said police later discovered that didn't happen.

"Some of these misleading statements became kind of suspicious to the family and so they came to the police about a week after their mother had been buried in Bountiful and asked that we look into it," Smith said.

Police obtained search warrants and a subpoena to search the Chamberlains’ computer and went into their home.

Smith said investigators discovered that someone at the home had used a computer to search for gases, medicines and poisons that would not be detected in an autopsy.

Police also found a book that can be used as a guide for committing suicide.

"There were certain passages that were highlighted and initialed [...] inside this book," Smith said. "We later found out that some of these items had been purchased the day that Ms. Chamberlain had passed away and we believe that some of these items were used to end her life."

Jean Chamberlain’s body was exhumed in March. The cause of her death still hasn't been determined.

Although investigators didn't find anything in the autopsy to indicate Jean Chamberlain had been murdered, Smith said the evidence found at the Chamberlain's home was overwhelming.

“The fact that he’d been researching these methods on how to kill yourself, which could actually be used to commit a homicide as well, especially with a handicapped individual,” Smith said.

Prior to her death, Smith said, Jean suffered from stroke-like symptoms and required help bathing and eating. Smith said their search showed Jean had looked into long-term care providers the day before she died.

Neighbors paint Dennis Chamberlain as controlling, verbally abusive and burdened by his wife’s poor physical health.

“At one point he came out of his house three or four months before she passed away and was right here on the sidewalk and I asked how Jean was doing and at that point, he came unglued on me and unleashed on me and said, ‘I'm tired of her, I'm tired of taking care of her, I'm tired of trying to do stuff for her,’ and at that point it made me think, ‘well what happened to his marriage vows,’" said neighbor Dennis England.

England said Dennis Chamberlain talked about how he found his wife the day she died.

“When he stood up to give his talk (at the funeral) about his wife, he said he taken the dog for a walk and when got back, he found her blue and unresponsive,” England said.

Neighbors say Dennis Chamberlain told a different story before the funeral.