If you’ve ever heard of the strange story of identical twins June and Jennifer Gibbons, you know just how twisted these sisters really were. In fact, theirs may very well be the single most twisted twin relationship in history. Riddled with jealousy, hate for each other, and a bond that saw them only speaking to each other for most of their lives, their bizarre world is one that’s become quite infamous over the years.
There are so many dark facts that make these sisters and their life story so interesting, and all of these will be explored in this article. Their story is known largely because of one woman named Marjorie Wallace, who was one of the only people to ever penetrate the twins’ private world and actually establish a relationship with them. Her book, as well as the film and play that also chronicle the girls’ lives, has been a major tool in beginning to understand just what these sisters’ lives were truly like. Of course, now, there’s only one person in the world who truly knows what it was like, and that’s June Gibbons, herself. Alone now without her twin, the weirdest thing of all is that she’s happy without her because together, the girls decided that one of them would have to die for the other to live a normal life.
They carried out that plan, and for the last two and a half decades, she’s lived a quiet life without her other half by her side. Here are 15 dark facts about her and Jennifer’s odd lives together before Jennifer’s death in 1993. Theirs is the darkest and most mystifying twin relationship you’ll ever learn about.
15. When Separated, They Became Catatonic
No doubt, from a young age, when it became apparent that June and Jennifer were different (and especially in terms of their selective communication), their parents and others around them tried many different tactics to try and bring them out of their shell. Nothing worked, as we know now, but various efforts were made to help them grow up as normal children. One of these efforts was separating them. At the age of 14, several different therapists attempted to do just this by sending them to different boarding schools. But when they were apart from one another, they completely withdrew from life and became catatonic. This attempt at encouraging socialization failed miserably. When they were finally reunited with each other, the girls slipped precariously further into their own little world, and what they did next took their strange case to an entirely new level…
14. Two Years of Captivity (By Choice)
It may be hard to believe that anyone would willingly choose to basically imprison themselves for years at a time, but that’s exactly what June and Jennifer did. Now, to be fair, they weren’t truly “captive,” as they could have left at any time, but they chose not to. They spent two years isolated in their bedroom after being reunited with one another. They engaged in elaborate play with dolls, and their mother gave them their mail by slipping it under their door. They were even brought meals to their room by their mother. They were 17 years old at this time, and they both applied for unemployment. They used a large part of this money to fund the self-publishing of their writing, which they also spent a lot of time creating while in the bedroom. Their mother reported that she would often hear them laughing and talking, so even though it might seem like a depressing situation, for them, it was not.
13. They Lost Their Virginity To The Same Boy… A Week Apart
It’s not strange for identical twins as close as June and Jennifer Gibbons were to experience a similar timeline of experiences during puberty and the teenage years. What’s strange is that these twins lost their virginity one week apart — to the same boy. This was after they had left school, had been reunited, and had locked themselves in their bedroom for two years. It’s said that they took to sex “like a duck to water,” meaning they enjoyed it — a lot. Not much else is known about this exact detail in their lives, except for the fact that it happened. This was also around the time that the twins started drinking heavily and smoking. Perhaps this behavior could be chalked up to normal teenage behavior, but when you consider all of their other problems and that they started to commit crimes, it was surely much more than that.
12. 11 Years at Broadmoor Hospital
After becoming criminals in their teen years, June and Jennifer Gibbons committed a string of crimes. The ones that landed them in hot water, though, were arson, vandalism, and petty theft (they even injured a fireman when in 1981, they burned down a tractor store on purpose). By this time, they had been trying, unsuccessfully, to sell their stories to magazines and had had flings with some American boys, the sons of U.S. Navy serviceman. They were admitted to Broadmoor Hospital, a high-security mental institution near London for the criminally insane. The twins would reside in this hospital for 11 years. June Gibbons attributed their long sentence to the fact that they wouldn’t speak to others, not because their crimes were so terrible. She said, “Juvenile delinquents get two years in prison… We got 12 years of hell because we didn’t speak… We lost hope, really. I wrote a letter to the Queen, asking her to get us out. But we were trapped.” There, they were put on high doses of antipsychotic medications and lost interest in their creative writing endeavors.
11. “The Silent Twins”
June and Jennifer Gibbons were nicknamed “The Silent Twins” because, for most of their lives, they only spoke to each other. Despite repeated efforts by their family and various doctors, the twin girls had little interest in communicating with anyone else. They even developed their own language that no one else could understand, which prompted their family and doctors to try everything to intervene: separation, therapy, medications, etc. But nothing worked. There was eventually a book published in 1986 called The Silent Twins, based on their story, and there was a movie by the same name that was released the same year. The book was written by a woman named Marjorie Wallace, who originally started meeting with them during their hospitalization (more on that later), but became one of the only people the girls would actually spend time with due to the fact that when they first met, Marjorie asked them about the things they had written, and showed a genuine interest.
10. Desperate For Fame
The twins were fiction writers, and although it may seem contradictory to their lifestyle of only communicating with each other and living in this self-created private world, they dreamed of becoming famous by way of writing. Both girls kept years of diaries, and both were avid fiction writers with creative and active imaginations that came as a surprise to those who had heard their story. They had notebooks upon notebooks full of short stories and poems and even full-length novels. June wrote a book called Pepsi-Cola Addict, about a high-school hero seduced by his teacher and then sent to a reformatory. Jennifer wrote Discomania, about a local disco that incites patrons to commit acts of insane violence. She also wrote The Pugilist, which is about a man who kills the family dog because he’s desperate for a heart to save his child, but the dog’s spirit lives on in the child and wants revenge on the father. The twins had first been inspired to write after receiving diaries as gifts in the Christmas of 1979, and so began their “career.” But despite the fact that they self-published, they were not successful.
9. Ostracized Because of Their Race
June and Jennifer Gibbons were born to Caribbean immigrant parents. Their father Aubrey was a technician for the Air Force, and their mother Gloria was a homemaker. They were born in Barbados but moved to Haverfordwest, Wales as babies. This is where they grew up in a predominantly white community. As two of the only black people around, they were ostracized at school, and the fact that they would only speak to each other only made matters worse. In fact, things were so bad at school that they were released early each day in order to avoid the bullying. All of this was understandably traumatic for the little girls, and it drove them deeper into their own private world. According to a Wikipedia article on the subject, “Their language became even more idiosyncratic at this time. Soon it was unintelligible to others. Their language, or idioglossia, qualified as an example of cryptophasia, exemplified by the twins’ simultaneous actions, which often mirrored each other. Eventually, the twins spoke to no one except each other and their younger sister Rose.”
8. Their Genius-Level I.Q. Scores
Not unlike many of history’s dark minds, June and Jennifer had genius-level I.Q.’s. Their exact I.Q. isn’t public knowledge, but while living inside the walls of Broadmoor, June and Jennifer underwent an I.Q. test, and they both scored well above average. According to The Paranormal Guide, “They were that special kind of genius — so smart, but completely lacking in any form of social skill.” So why is this a “dark” fact, you ask, when normally, a higher-than-average I.Q. score is something to be celebrated? Simply put, it makes their whole life story even that much sadder because they had so much potential, and it was never put to any use. They were very smart girls, but for whatever reason, they were unable to get out of their own heads and turn their lives into something positive despite having a normal upbringing, the support of their family, and plenty of medical treatments available to them.
7. They Took Turns Eating and Starving
June and Jennifer Gibbons were so close to one another that at times, they even operated as one organism. Obviously, this is extremely unhealthy both mentally and physically, and it shows just how troubled they really were. During their time at Broadmoor Hospital, the twins were housed in the same cell — but on the opposite end of the hospital from each other. Given what had transpired when they had been separated during their school years and become catatonic, this likely only made things worse for their mental state of mind, which, according to doctors at Broadmoor, was considered to be “deeply disturbed.” This is proven (as if we need more proof) by the fact that they took turns eating and starving. One twin would eat for one or two days, and the other would fast. Then they would switch. Perhaps this was the first (or at least the most obvious) sign of what was to come, the realization that only one twin could live and thrive. The above photo is not actually the real June and Jennifer, but twin actresses who portrayed them in the film.
6. They Tried to Kill Each Other
I guess you could say that June and Jennifer’s relationship was the ultimate love-hate relationship. They obviously shared a very deep bond, disturbed or not. But just as much as they loved each other, they also hated each other. The jealousy between them was fierce. Jennifer was younger by 10 minutes and viewed June as smarter, prettier, and funnier. June sensed this and wrote in her diary, “She wants us to be equal. There is a murderous gleam in her eye. Dear lord, I am scared of her. She is not normal… someone is driving her insane. It is me.” Jennifer wrote, “We have become fatal enemies in each others’ eyes. We feel the irritating deadly rays come out of our bodies, stinging each other’s skin. I say to myself, can I get rid of my own shadow, impossible or not possible? Without my shadow, would I die? Without my shadow, would I gain life, be free or left to die? Without my shadow, which I identify with a face of misery, deception, murder.” Once, Jennifer tried to strangle June with a cable, and there was an instance where June tried to throw Jennifer into the river. They also attempted suicide. In the end, they always forgave each other and moved on. Again, the above photo is not of the actual twins but from the play based on their lives.
5. They Tried to Prevent Their Breasts From Growing
This fact seems a bit out of place and very random. But nevertheless, it is a fact about June and Jennifer Gibbons from their pubescent years. For whatever reason, they wanted to prevent their breasts from growing, which, as we know, is normal female human development, and something many (if not most) young girls actually look forward to. But not June and Jennifer. When they were 14, they even went as far as to wrap bandages around their breasts to keep them from growing any bigger. Besides being tedious and painful, this was something extremely abnormal and potentially dangerous for their bodies that were trying to change from girls into women. A few days after their 14th birthday in 1977 was when they were sent to the Eastgate Center for Special Education due to all of their social problems and emotional dependence on one another. It was there that they were evaluated and were found to be…
4. Contradictions of Themselves
In 1977, at the age of 14, June and Jennifer Gibbons were beginning a stretch of what would turn into years and years of confinement, whether by their own choice or not. They were sent to and evaluated at the Eastgate Center for Special Education. According to an article in People magazine, “The twins scored as socially maladjusted, depressed, and withdrawn on the one hand, and well-balanced and independent on the other. The most stunning example of June and Jennifer’s bizarre behavior was provided by a videotape of the two made with a hidden camera. Thinking they were unobserved, the girls cavorted, laughed and talked happily with each other. Weekly therapy sessions with the resident psychologist were a failure. The girls refused to speak.” Another article referenced the fact that June’s and Jennifer’s lives were filled with equal parts violence and laughter. And the twins themselves even acknowledged the duality of their lives.
3. The Pact That One Twin Must Die
This pact made by June and Jennifer Gibbons was just as creepy as it sounds. In 1993, when the twins were nearly 30 years old, they decided together that the only way for either of them to live a normal life was without the other. Together, they were too connected and couldn’t break free of the bond they shared that had thus far controlled their lives. Marjorie Wallace, the woman who befriended the twins and wrote the book about them, said that according to the guards at Broadmoor Hospital, they fought over who would be the one to die. Then, one day, during a conversation over tea, Jennifer told Marjorie very nonchalantly, “Marjorie, Marjorie, I’m going to have to die.” When asked why, she said simply, “Because we decided.” In the photo above, June and Jennifer are pictured with Marjorie, and they look relatively normal. In fact, if I didn’t know better, I would’ve never guessed from this photo that they were so very mentally disturbed.
2. Jennifer’s Ultimate Sacrifice For Her Sister
So, that March, the twins were finally being released from Broadmoor Hospital after living for 11 years within its walls. They were not being released fully, but the plan was to transfer them to a lower-security facility in Bridgend, Wales called the “Caswell Clinic.” Doctors had finally agreed to the transfer, although only one twin would make it there alive. During the journey from Broadmoor to Caswell, Jennifer slumped onto June’s shoulder, then lay across her lap, “sleeping with her eyes open.” She had been feeling tired and experiencing slurred speech the day before, and both twins had just assumed she was dying. She died later that day at the hospital, and although her death is still labeled as mysterious, the actual cause is known, and that is acute myocarditis or inflammation of the heart. Blood samples later showed a significant drop in red blood cells when she was transferred to the hospital. Her gravestone in Wales is engraved with a poem by June that reads, “We once we two/We two made one/We no more two/Through life be one/Rest in peace.”
1. June Gibbons Lives a “Free and Liberated” Life Now
Now, June Gibbons is living alone in West Wales near her parents. She was released from Caswell Clinic one year after Jennifer’s death. She now speaks to other people, although her speech isn’t always clear, and there’s an impediment from all the years of only speaking the made-up language with Jennifer. She takes medication every day and visits Jennifer’s grave every Tuesday. She once said, “I’m free at last, liberated, and at last Jennifer has given up her life for me.” It’s actually creepy how easily she seems to acknowledge that fact and is so ok with it. No one really knows the intricate details of their twisted relationship now except June herself, but perhaps, one of her diary entries is most fitting to try and explain it: “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.”
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