The Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit responds to a home at 239 Harrison Road in Norway in September when a woman’s body was found buried in the backyard. Jon Bolduc/Sun Journal

NORWAY — Maine State Police on Monday released the identity of a woman found buried behind a home at 239 Harrison Road in September.

The remains were of Mae Shelton, 82, of Otisfield, according to Katharine England, social media coordinator for Maine State Police. Her body was taken to Augusta for examination and identification.

According to an interview with the Portland Press Herald on Sept. 18, Vernelle Jackson, 83, admitted to burying Shelton in her backyard more than a year and a half ago. Jackson said she buried Shelton at her request.

According to a will filed at the Oxford County Register of Probate Court on Nov. 5, Shelton left her entire estate to Jackson, who was also named Shelton’s personal representative. The will, witnessed and signed by Norway attorney Bruce A Rood on Sept. 6, 2016, left Shelton’s property at 26 Evergreen Drive in Otisfield to Jackson.

In a certificate and abstract filed by the Oxford County Probate Court on Nov. 8, Shelton’s death is listed as Sept. 18, 2019, and Jackson is listed as her heir.

According to reporting by WMTW, Jackson has been renting Shelton’s home in Otisfield for two years for $750 a month.


“I’m renting from Vernelle,” Joanna Brough, the tenant from the property told WMTW on Friday. “I never met Mae. Vernelle signed the lease. She’s the only one I ever talked to.”

According to Jackson’s timeline, Shelton was alive when Jackson began renting the property in 2017.

In that same Press Herald interview, Jackson said Shelton moved in after her friend “had no other place to live” four years ago despite having a home in Otisfield.

Shelton’s will states that she was unmarried and had no children at the time of her death. A 2003 warranty deed for her property in Otisfield lists Shelton’s previous address as 1899 Owens Creek Road in Mineral, Virginia.

In a September interview with the Sun Journal, Jackson said she and Shelton met in church while living in the South. Jackson came to Maine 20 years ago looking for a place to live and it was her deceased friend who invited her to stay at her Otisfield home.

Jackson said her decision to bury Shelton was made after Shelton became seriously ill and bedridden. Jackson said her friend, who was born in 1937, was under the care of a doctor as well as hospice care in the months before she died. Jackson said her friend did not have insurance, and Jackson promised her that she would bury her in the yard.

In the interview with WMTW, Jackson said she wrapped her in a tarp, and dragged her to the hole she had dug. Jackson, who has been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, said it took her a couple of days to dig the grave and move her friend’s body due to her physical condition.

State police are continuing the investigation into Shelton’s death. What led them to Jackson’s house has not been released.

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