The bizarre case of the Gibbons Twins

“This sister of mine, a dark shadow robbing me of sunlight, is my one only torment.” — A disturbing quote from the journal of June Gibbons.

June and Jennifer Gibbons were twin girls who were known as ‘The Silent Twins’ as they never spoke to anyone for the most part of their lives, except to each other. Growing up in a small Welsh village, they quickly learnt that they were the only black girls in town and felt ostracised by locals. They were diagnosed as mute, however their mother noticed that they had a language of their very own: According to her, they “had distorted their speech into a secret code only they could understand.” Something else unusual is that they mirrored each other’s every movement. An expert studied this unusual behaviour and was fascinated. She took them horse-riding to encourage individual movement; but if one fell off the horse, the other would immediately follow. The girls displayed genius IQs and were avid writers, creating their own fantasies together and keeping several diaries throughout their lives.

Their high intelligence caused them to become very bored, and the pair turned to crime. June wrote in her diary: “No friends. Nothing else to do. Nothing to fill the cold hour.” Moments later, the pair robbed several stores and set fire to half the village. When they were teenagers, they both published their own novels detailing these crimes (June wrote Pepsi Cola Addict and Jennifer wrote Discomania) When they got bored of committing petty crimes, they began to violently attack each other. Jennifer strangled June with a telephone wire, so severely that she damaged her trachea. June then tried to drown Jennifer in a river. Despite this, they remained utterly inseparable, apparently able to forgive each other for attempted murder. In 1982, they were arrested for burning down a barn and sent to Broadmoor, Britain’s biggest secure mental institute. Officials at the hospital decided to keep them apart, as the violence was getting worse. As you can probably guess, this did not go well and each attempted suicide on multiple occasions. After spending 10 years at the hospital, they were allowed to see each other in supervised sessions. They also caught the attention of a journalist, Marjorie Wallace. After Marjorie had gained their trust, they told Marjorie that they had made a pact that one of them was “going to die.”

Marjorie Wallace with June and Jennifer. Source: Walesonline

Marjorie suspected murder, but she did not contact doctors as she knew the twins trusted her. On the day of their release, Jennifer suddenly died due to an inflammation of her heart. The exact cause of death remains unknown. When asked about how she felt about her sister’s death, June said “I am free, I am liberated. At last, Jennifer has given up her life for me.” June lives a normal life with her family in Wales. She says she doesn’t remember much of her “psychotic twin.” but is glad she is free from the dark shadow of her sister. Exactly what was wrong with the twins, remains a mystery.

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