Anne Arundel County Police Department officers had already begun making the grim phone calls. On October 1, officers dialed the friends and family members of Ruth Shillinglaw Johnson, 89, of Severn, to tell them that the elderly woman was dead.
The State Anatomy Board had sent a transport team to Johnson's home to collect her body, consistent with Johnson's wishes to donate her body to science. Anatomy board employee Charles Morgan arrived at Johnson's home at 7:10 p.m., about three hours after officers found her seemingly dead on her bathroom floor.
That was when Morgan saw Johnson's body do something unexpected: take a breath.
The Capital reports that Johnson, thought to be dead by police, was in fact unconscious. Police had discovered Johnson -- motionless and not breathing, her skin blue -- on the floor and guessed that she had in fact been dead for a couple of days. They did not bother to check her pulse.
Police even contacted her primary care physician, who related that Johnson suffered from illnesses (which police did not disclose to The Capital).
Paramedics were called to her home and transported her to Baltimore Washington Medical Center. She was discharged on Wednesday, reportedly to alocal hospice.
Authorities do not know what caused Johnson to be unconscious or how long she was out.
According to The Capital, by all account Johnson had appeared deceased, only to be alive three hours later.