The Curious Case of the Silent Twins
The Silent Twins had a bond that was so close one of them had to DIE for the other to live a normal life. It’s not unusual for twins to be close, especially identical twins. But June and Jennifer Gibbons took this to a whole new level.
Born in 1963, in Barbados, their parents Aubrey and Gloria Gibbons quickly relocated the family to Wales. June and Jennifer were late speakers choosing to communicate with each other over their family. They developed their own cryptophasia -a twin language.
At school, the girls were relentlessly bullied as they were the only black children in the local area. This brought the twins closer together, strengthening their bond. Deciding that they had to shut out the surrounding world and become one, the twins stopped all verbal communication except with one another. They started to mirror each other’s actions and displayed strange distressed behaviour when apart.
By age 14 the twin’s behaviour became so bizarre that they had to be sent to a specialist school to receive treatment. The therapists discovered that the twin’s secret language was a bajan patois which could be understood when slowed down. June and Jennifer soon began to request to be separated, believing it to be their only chance at a normal life.
The separation did not help.
Their behaviour became extremely bizarre. They would scarcely eat, sleep or even move. As their catatonic behaviours worsened the therapists had no choice but to reunite them. Upon their reunion the twins went to their rooms, and never left. They created elaborate plays with their dolls and they journaled- religiously.
June and Jennifer constructed a world for themselves. One where they were one person and the outside world did not exist. They also wrote books which they thought would make them into famous authors. Several years passed. After their dreams of becoming authors failed they decided it was time to leave their room.
The twins embarked on a summer filled with alcohol, sex and crime.
Throughout all of this time June and Jennifer continued to journal. But their words became darker. They wrote about how much they hated each other and how much they wanted the other twin dead.
“I am not ashamed to say that I tried to kill my sister… I did not succeed in strangling her with the wire to the radio. I’m sure she wanted to kill me too. I have a grave feeling she did.”– Jennifer’s diary.
The twins soon turned to arson to satisfy their appetite for crime.
“Dear diary my nature has turned to crime… all this week I have been wanting to burn down the tractor store in Show Drop Lane. I burned it down today… I am going to burn down the whole damn town. Oh yes, I am!”– June’s diary 1981.
When they were caught it was their strange behaviour, not their crimes which shocked the local community. They were sentenced to an indefinite stay at Broadmoor hospital- a high security psychiatric institution. There the twins would spend the next 11 years of their lives.
At Broadmoor the twins were kept on different wards and were only allowed to visit each other in the evenings. The anti-psychotic tranquilizers they were given allowed them to communicate more freely with nurses and therapists.
When they were apart they journaled about how lonely they were and how much they missed each other. But when together they journaled about their hatred for the other twin and their fears that the other twin may kill them. They would also get into massive fights when together causing them to be separated once again.
A journalist Marjorie Wallace befriended the twins, speaking with them about their experiences at Broadmoor regularly. On several occasions the twins told Wallace that in order for them to live a normal life the other twin had to die. They also told Wallace that on the day of their release one of them would die.
In March 1993, on the day of the twin’s release Jennifer began to complain of a sick feeling. Later that day she died of acute myocarditis, inflammation of the heart. No drugs were found in her system.
When June heard of her sisters passing she said simply:
“I’m free at last, liberated, and at last Jennifer has given up her life for me.”
June believes that her sister became a part of her and she now lives a normal life for both of them.