June and Jennifer Gibbons were twin girls who grew up in Wales. Their relationship was odd from the start.
As children they were raised in a small village where they were the only black people. Rejected and mocked, they never made friends with other kids and ended up becoming inseparable.
In time, they developed their own language that no one else understood and they only spoke to each other. Their family was so concerned that they decided to split them up and send them to different boarding schools. But that didn’t change anything — once reunited, they were even more inseparable than ever before.
Once back together, they started writing incredibly violent crime stories, eventually going on to commit crimes in real life, including arson and theft. Their lives were aimless and they were bored. June wrote in her diary: “No friends. Nothing to do. Nothing to fill the empty hours.”
The twins were diagnosed as psychopaths and sent to Broadmoor Mental Hospital, a notorious institution in the United Kingdom that has housed some of the country’s most infamous criminals. They stayed in two separate rooms, but nurses would often see the twins sitting in exactly the same odd position. Some days, June would over-eat and Jennifer would starve herself, all without them communicating.
Their bond was strange and strong. Before they were sent to prison, they had even tried to kill each other — June tried to strangle her sister with a telephone cable and Jennifer tried to drown June in a river. Ultimately, they forgave each other. In jail, they both attempted suicide, but eventually they began to believe that one of them would have to die for the other to truly live.
They were visited by the journalist Marjorie Wallace, who was writing a book about them, and Jennifer told her: “Marjorie, Marjorie, I will have to die,” and when she asked why, Jennifer answered, “Because we decided so.”
The sisters were eventually scheduled to be transferred from Broadmoor to another facility closer to their family in Wales. But when they arrived at the clinic, Jennifer was unconscious and was rushed to hospital where she died of an acute heart condition. Her autopsy showed she had died of natural causes and there was no evidence of poisoning or foul play.
June later said her sister had not been well the day before and during the trip to the new clinic. She said: “Her speech was slurring (…) She was tired and said she was dying. Then she slept with her head on my lap but with her eyes open.”
After her sister’s death, June showed no obvious signs of mourning. She wrote, “I am free, liberated. Finally, Jennifer gave her life for me.”
She also wrote a poem for Jennifer’s headstone that reads: “We once were two/We two made one/We no more two/Through life be one/Rest in peace.”
Whatever the cause of Jennifer’s death, the relationship between the two sisters is scary and moving all at the same time. Despite their delinquent ways, it’s hard not to feel sympathy for the two young girls who grew up as outcasts and only found solace in each other — in life and in death.