June and Jennifer Gibbons, identical twins, were born on April 11, 1963, in a military hospital in Aden, Yemen, while their father served in the Royal Air Force.
They came to the UK with their parents, Gloria and Aubrey Gibbons, from Barbados. Their births and early years were ordinary, but their parents discovered they were different from other girls not long before they reached the age of speaking.
They were unusually close and late in speaking. His family claimed that they both had a speech impairment that made it difficult to understand them. Their parents had to guess what the twins were trying to say, and after a few years, they had developed their own unique language that only they understood.
They were the only black students in school, and as a result, they were subjected to constant bullying, which seemed to strengthen their bond. In 1976, a doctor came to the school to administer tuberculosis vaccinations to the children. June and Jennifer's strange behavior and lack of emotion when receiving the injection shocked him, so he informed the school's headmaster.
The doctor refused to give up and pushed that the girls be enrolled in therapy, despite the headmaster's assurances.
They wouldn't talk to anyone.
They refused to speak to anyone after consulting multiple psychotherapists and psychologists. Ann Treharne, a speech therapist, didn't meet the twins until February 1977, and they made considerable progress.
Although she was unable to communicate with the girls, they agreed to have their chats recorded if they were left alone. Treharne deduced from the recordings that their secret language was a combination of English and a sped-up version of Barbadian creole.
During their sessions, Ane Treharne got the idea that June wanted to talk to her but was afraid of Jennifer telling her she couldn't.
Their parents agreed to separate the girls the following year in order to test whether this would cause them to open up, but the experiment failed. The twins became even more cut off from the outside world, refusing to eat, dress, and spend most of their time in bed.
The physicians had no choice but to reconnect them, only for them to resume their silent behavior. They wrote letters to their parents to speak with them.
At the age of 16, the twins dropped out of school. They used to makeup stories with their dolls, read a lot of books and enjoy writing. They'd occasionally tell their younger sister Rosie about their adventures.
Their Situation Got Even Worse
The girls turned 18 in 1981 and began experimenting with alcohol and drugs, as well as committing minor crimes.
Their activities progressed to arson, and they were apprehended the next year. They set fire to three structures and were caught red-handed attempting to set fire to Pembrokeshire Technical College.
Marjorie Wallace, a London-based journalist for The Sunday Times, came across the twins' story and was determined to learn more. She paid June and Jennifer visits in prison while they awaited their trials. She wished to shatter the stillness between them.
Wallace had read some of their articles and expressed her admiration for them to the twins. June's reactions were ecstatic, and she questioned if she liked them with difficulty.
June and Jennifer pled guilty to 16 offenses of burglary, theft, and arson after their trial at Swansea Crown Court. They were condemned to indefinite imprisonment at Broadmoor, the most secure mental facility in the United Kingdom.
Their Stay at Broadmoor Hospital
Wallace believes it was an injustice that they were sent to a facility with cold-blooded killers and other dangerous offenders, but no other facility would take them because their behavior was too upsetting.
Wallace began visiting the twins every weekend at Broadmoor, determined to break into their inner world, and she gradually gained access to their universe.
Jeniffer and June spent nearly a decade in Broadmoor. It had been 12 years of agony, according to June. They were medicated with antipsychotics and sedated on a regular basis. The size of their journals and books shrank substantially. They were frantic to get out, so they wrote letters to the Home Office and the Queen but received no response. They had given up hope.
They got acquainted with Marjorie Wallace throughout their visit. She claimed the twins had a dry sense of humor, that they laughed at her jokes, and that they would sometimes spend entire teas laughing.
Wallace, on the other hand, began to notice the evil within each twin. She discovered from their diary entries that June felt possessed by her sister and was terrified of her, whom she referred to as her "black shadow." June was Jennifer's mortal nemesis, and she described her as "a face of agony, lies, and murder."
Despite the fact that they looked to have an unbreakable link, the twins' terror of each other grew over time, as seen by their writing.
Wallace put forth a lot of effort to figure out how the twins interacted, and he saw that June seemed to be more afraid of Jennifer, the dominant force. June attempted to open up more to Wallace, but Jennifer's subtle cues appeared to prevent her from doing so.
Free at last?
The twins were cleared for relocation to a medium-security clinic closer to home in 1993, a month before their 30th birthday. After 12 years, it was their first step toward liberation.
Wallace paid one last visit to the twins at Broadmoor a few days before the relocation. They were having a pleasant talk when Jennifer abruptly said:
“Marjorie, I’m going to have to die.”
Wallace thought she was joking and told her:
“Why are you going to have to die? You’re not ill.”
The twins answered:
“Because we’ve decided. We have made a pact. Jennifer has got to die.”
They seemed to have arrived in the conclusion that one of them would have to give up their life in order for the other to truly be free.
Wallace was terrified at that moment, knowing they meant it, and she opted not to ask any more questions.
She informed the physicians, who assured her that nothing was wrong and that the girls were being watched.
Jennifer Gibbons' Death: What Happened to Her?
Jennifer said she wasn't feeling well the morning they left Broadmoor. She placed her head on June's shoulder in the transport cart and whispered, "At long last, we're out," before slipping into a coma.
She died less than 12 hours later from undetected acute myocarditis, a rare heart condition characterized by inflammation. It's only a small percentage of the time when it's fatal.
Jennifer Gibbons' death is still a mystery, as there was no sign of poisoning or anything strange in her system.
June wrote in her diary about her loss and sorrow at her sister's death, but Wallace paid her a visit to the new hospital after a few days and was surprised to find her in excellent spirits and eager to talk. June, she claimed, appeared to be a new person.
She gently explained to Wallace how Jennifer had to die and how they had determined that once that happened, June would be responsible for living for the other.
June spent a year at Caswell Hospital before returning to West Wales to start a new life. She continues to reside in the United Kingdom, close to her family. She leads a normal life and speaks to everyone who will listen, although she has attempted to stay out of the spotlight in the past, with the exception of a few interviews.