Woman’s Death Goes Unnoticed for Years

A tale of life in modern-day America . . .

A tale of life in modern-day America . . .

CNN (“Michigan woman’s auto-payments hid her death for six years“):

For years, the payments went out of the woman’s bank account.

Nobody batted an eyelid. Bills were paid. And life went on as normal in the quiet neighborhood of Pontiac, Michigan.

Neighbors didn’t notice anything unusual. The woman traveled a lot, they said, and kept to herself. One of them mowed her grass to keep things looking tidy.

At some point, her bank account ran dry. The bills stopped being paid.

After its warnings went unanswered, the bank holding the mortgage foreclosed on the house, a common occurrence in a region hit hard by economic woes.

Still, nobody noticed what had happened inside the house. Nobody wondered out loud what had become of the owner.

Not until this week, when a worker sent by the bank to repair a hole in the roof made a grisly discovery.

The woman’s mummified body was sitting in the back seat of her car, parked in the garage. The key was halfway in the ignition.

Authorities say they believe the woman died at least six years ago. They’re still trying to figure out what happened.

She apparently had no family save for a sister, from whom she was estranged. And the nature of her work had her traveling more than she was home and didn’t know her neighbors. Presumably, she didn’t have co-workers at an office that would have noticed.

FILED UNDER: Obituaries, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Tyrell says:

    The mystery is why was she in the back seat ? It would help if we knew more about the car – was it started and running while she was in it? If that was known, there could be some possible explanations. It is still hard to believe that no one checked on her or the house in all of that time. She was sure to have some friends or co-workers who missed her. And the neighbors. I know that she was gone a lot, but.after that length of time ? Have people today become so disconnected that they could not miss a neighbor like that ? Neighborhoods used to be a close knit family. What has happened ? I believe if we became closer to our neighbors, crime, family problems, drug abuse, wife and child abuse, and other social problems that plague this country would decline. The neighborhood that I was a child in was very close. Everyone knew each other. Everyone helped each other. We watched out for each other and stuck together. Children were safe. We did not have home “security” systems. We did not need them. We did not need a neighborhood watch” group. We did not have drug dealers, criminals, or predators roaming around. We could leave our windows and doors open. Now neighborhoods have become like medieval fortresses, with walls, fences, gates, and guards. What has happened ?

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    When I read the title of the post I immediately thought of this:

    Joyce Carol Vincent: How could this young woman lie dead and undiscovered for almost three years?

    A truly sad tale. Makes one wonder about today’s world.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: It is instructive that that was in England.

  4. rudderpedals says:

    @Tyrell: There’s more at the underlying articles. The key was in the ignition but the ignition was off, and there was gas in the tank. Her coworkers didn’t notice her missing because she didn’t have an office job since around 2007.

  5. Kristina Krovane says:

    Perhaps the woman wanted to sit in the back seat of her car and was listening to music because her car had an awesome sound system. Who knows why people do what they do.

  6. beth says:

    Weird. Most people have mail, even junk mail, delivered regularly. Even if she had a P.O.Box wouldn’t someone wonder why the mail wasn’t picked up?

  7. electroman says:

    @beth: If you don’t pick up your mail, they stop delivering it. I suspect that this is common enough that nobody at the USPS takes any particular note of it.

  8. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @Tyrell: “Have people today become so disconnected that they could not miss a neighbor like that ?”

    Not just today. When the ex-wife of one of my friends died, her apartment complex neighbors, brother and sister-in-law (whose church she attended), and the family that she ate dinner with each Sunday didn’t notice for two weeks. Now two weeks isn’t six years, but these people were her actual family. And this didn’t happen in 2013, it happened in about 1985. People have been self absorbed for longer than you think. I think it started happening about the time Ayn Rand became a “serious” philosopher.

  9. Matt says:

    @beth: I don’t get much in the way of junk mail.

    If she had a mail slot you’d never know.

  10. al-Ameda says:

    I thought this was going to be about Phyllis Schlafly … never mind.