State police are investigating how and why a 43-year-old man from East Baldwin buried his mother in their backyard after her death some time last week.

The woman, 72-year-old Carolyn Farnell, was discovered under about 3 feet of dirt in a construction pit behind the home where she lived with her son, Shawn Farnell, on Harris Road. Police were alerted to the presence of a body there when a tipster called the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office over the weekend, said state police spokesman Steve McCausland.

Multiple family members have told investigators that the elder Farnell was in failing health, did not want to go the hospital and wanted to be buried on the property.

It took investigators seven hours to exhume her remains, McCausland said.

While burial at home is legal in Maine, cities and towns must first be notified and families must obtain a permit to create a cemetery. Investigators have been unable to locate a death certificate for her or permit to bury the body, as required by state law, McCausland said. Shawn Farnell has not been charged, but the case will likely be reviewed by the district attorney’s office once the investigation is complete, he said.

Staff Writer Gillian Graham contributed to this report.

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