A Sad Tale Indeed
The following sad story is about a forgotten woman. The forgotten are unusual cases that occur everywhere. The reality is that this story is not an isolated case.
Joyce Carol Vincent was born on October 15, 1965 and was a British woman who, prior to her death, had cut all contact with family and friends. As a victim of domestic abuse, Joyce ended up quitting her job and moved into a shelter in 2001 during this period of time in her life. It was thought that she cut all contact with people because she was highly embarrassed about her situation. At the time of her death, she was in another apartment and she died in 2003 without anyone taking notice. Her remains were not located until January 25, 2006.
When Joyce died, half of her rent was being funded by a benefits agency and after several months, the unpaid portion was growing. Her heat and electric were both paid through automatic debit. When authorities finally entered her apartment to repossess the property, the television was still on! The way the apartment was laid out, no one could see into the windows so people were not aware that anything was wrong.
Joyce’s cause of death was thought to be a result of an asthma attack combined with her history of a peptic ulcer. She was hospitalized once in the past for treatment of her ulcer. Neighbors had noticed a foul odor over a period of time but attributed it to trash that often accumulated in bins outside of the building.
Dreams of Life, a documentary film, detailed the death of Joyce and her story also inspired a rock album entitled, Hand Cannot Erase by Steven Wilson.
Joyce’s parents immigrated to London from Grenada and she was from both African and Indian descent. When Joyce was eleven years old her mother died from complications after an operation. Over the years her relationship with her father became strained and he was described as a distant person. Joyce’s four older sisters took responsibility for her care during her formative years. Joyce eventually left school at the age of 16 and a string of jobs followed, in addition to an abusive relationship which changed her life.
When Joyce’s skeleton was found, she was lying on her back, on her sofa and was surrounded by wrapped Christmas presents. It is not known who the gifts were intended for. It is also reported that she had a fiance at the time of death but he was never located. Also, Joyce’s sisters had hired a private detective to find her and once they had an address, they sent her many letters that all went unanswered. The assumption was that Joyce did not want any contact with her remaining family members. The coroner ruled that Joyce had died of natural causes and foul play was never considered.
There are several documented cases of people going unnoticed over extensive periods of time. There are cases from all around the world. A few examples include the following:
- A Croatian woman who died and sat in front of her television for 42 years.
- Barbara Salinas-Norman, 70 mummified remains were found in her home after a period of one year. She was a teacher, author of children’s books, and an activist. She had several family members.
- Geneva Chambers of Florida was dead in her home three years before being discovered by a landscaper. She preferred solitude and was an unfriendly woman to those who lived around her.
- David Carter was a suicide whose skeletonized remains were found by a real estate agent who went to the home after is was repossessed because of tax foreclosure. David had quite his job as a nuisance control officer and was described and funny, kind, and generous. He told friends that he was moving to New Mexico but instead, committed suicide. He had been dead in his home for four years.
- An elderly Australian woman was dead for eight years before being found. Natalie Wood’s skeletal remains were finally found after her sister-in-law eventually called authorities to report that she had not heard from her. Natalie lived as a reclusive.
- Chattanooga twin brothers found dead side by side in their easy chairs and they had been alone, deceased in their home for three years. The 63-year-old twins were often seen in their yard wearing surgical masks but no one ever saw them with visitors.
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