When I first saw The Shining, there was nothing that creeped me out more than the Grady twin sisters who appeared to Danny Torrance in that long hallway of The Overlook Hotel. There was just something that didn’t look right with them, like they couldn’t be trusted. “Come and play with us Danny.” Uh…I don’t think so! After that movie I was always intrigued by twins and had heard that twins share a unique bond with each other. I used to wonder if maybe they had a special secret power like mental telepathy or something. Then I grew up and realized twins are just ordinary normal people, that is until I read the story of the Gibbons sisters, a real pair of twins whose story is so weird that these two girls just might be the creepiest twins of them all!
Jennifer and June Gibbons were inseparable twin sisters that were so close, they had invented their own language. Together they decided that the only way one of them could live normally was for the other to die. June Gibbons said this in her diary, “Nobody suffers the way I do. Not with a sister. With a husband—yes. With a wife—yes. With a child—yes. But this sister of mine, a dark shadow robbing me of sunlight, is my one and only torment.” Geez! Talk about sibling rivalry. What would make a twin feel that way about her sister?
June and Jennifer were both born in 1968, June being the older of the two by 10 minutes. They were of West Indian decent and lived in Wales. As they attended school, they were often the subject of racial taunting and bullying from their classmates. It was so bad for the girls, that the principal let the girls leave school early in order to get a head start for home.
To make matters worse, the girls had a speech impediment which made it difficult for people to understand them. They began to avoid people completely, even their own immediate family. The girls took comfort in each other’s presence and grew inseparable. They eventually created their own language, an unintelligible babble that no one else could understand. Twins creating their own languages is nothing new. It is called “Cryptophasia”, and apparently happens often. Their parents were alarmed by their behavior and sent them to therapists to get them to communicate but nothing worked. They were even shipped off to separate boarding schools when they were 14 years old, but this only made them catatonic and withdrawn.
At 16 the girls left school, began receiving unemployment benefits, and locked themselves away in their bedroom. They rarely came out and their mother began leaving trays of food outside their door. The girls decided they would become writers. June wrote a novel called Pepsi-Cola Addict, and Jennifer wrote 3 novels of her own (none of which were published though). Then their behavior began to sour. They both lost their virginity to the same boy (a week apart), they started to drink heavily and began smoking weed. Although they were so close, at times they were also bitter enemies. Jennifer once attempted to kill June by strangling her with a radio cord. June had also tried to kill Jennifer once by attempting to drown her in a river. Their drug and alcohol problem grew and they began to commit petty theft and arson. The girls were caught vandalising and attempting to burn down a technical college where they lived. Authorities didn’t book them but instead sent them to Broodmoor, a maximum security hospital near London for the criminally insane.
The girls remained institutionalized for 12 years where they were kept in separate wards. Sometimes as they crossed paths in the hallways, they would attack each other. Yet other times, they would be highly engaged in each others company and begin their private twin language. It was during this time that the twins came up with the most shocking and mysterious plan of their lives. They both came to believe that if either of them were to live a normal life, one must die. They made a pact with each other that if one of them died, the other would start to speak and interact like everybody else. They talked it over for some time and it was Jennifer who agreed to be the “sacrifice” enabling June to live out her life in a normal way.
The Gibbons twins were to be transferred to a less stringent hospital named Caswell. When they arrived, the staff noticed that Jennifer was ill. She was transferred to the hospital where she died two hours later from a condition called acute myocarditis, a sudden inflammation of the heart. The autopsy found no evidence of poison or drugs in her system. A journalist who visited June a few days after Jennifer’s death told of how June was “in a strange mood. She said ‘I’m free at last, liberated and at last Jennifer has given up her life for me’.”
After this incredibly weird story, June Gibbons went back to living a normal life. She has integrated back into her community and no longer even needs any psychiatric treatment. Pretty amazing and sad story!