"We come alone and alone we die." This statement has never been more true than for people like Hedviga Golik, who sat dead in front of her TV for 42 years.
1The Croatian Woman Who Sat Dead in Front of Her TV for 42 Years
The remains of a woman were found sitting in front of her TV - 42 years after she was reported missing. Hedviga Golik, who was born in 1924, had apparently made herself a cup of tea before sitting in her favorite armchair in front of her black and white television set. Croatian police said that she was last seen by neighbors in 1966, when she would have been 42 years old. Her neighbors thought she had moved out of her flat in Zagreb.
However, she was found by police and bailiffs when they broke in to help the authorities establish who owned the flat. When officers went there, they said it was like stepping into a place frozen in time. The cup from which she had been drinking tea was still on a table next to the chair where she had been sitting, and the house was full of things no one had seen for a long time. Nothing had been disturbed for decades, although there were more than a few cobwebs in there.
Despite numerous actions by tenants, who noticed that nobody had been using the flat since 1970, as well as those by city services, which requested that the apartment be broken into and examined, nobody reacted to their pleas for nearly four decades.
2The 38-Year-Old Woman Who Lay Dead for Three Years without Anyone Noticing
On January 25, 2006, officials from a north London housing association who were repossessing a bedsit in Wood Green due to rent arrears made a grim discovery. Lying on the sofa was the skeleton of a 38-year-old woman who had been dead for almost three years. In one corner of the room the television set was still on, tuned to BBC1, and a small pile of unopened Christmas presents lay on the floor. Dishes were heaped in the kitchen sink and a mountain of post lay behind the front door.
Having apparently died in late 2003, her remains went undiscovered for three years despite the smell of decomposition emanating from her apartment.
Due to the considerable decomposition of the body, the only means by which identification of the corpse could be achieved was through a comparison of the records of Joyce Vincent with a holiday photograph of her where she is seen smiling. The cause of death was never ascertained, again due to the decomposed state of the remains, but police believe that Vincent died of natural causes.
The episode is the subject of a film, Dreams of Life, the research for which revealed that the woman was an acquaintance of many influential members of London's 80s and 90s pop music scene.
3The Mummified Body of an Author was Found in Her Home Over a Year After Her Death
In May 2013, the mummified remains of a Chicana author, activist, and teacher were found inside her Santa Fe, New Mexico home. Authorities and family members believe that the body of Barbara Salinas-Norman, 70, may have been inside the home for over a year.
At one time, Salinas was a prominent children's author. She wrote and published stories through Pinata Publications, which she founded, that were designed to help Mexican-American children identify with their culture.
In recent years, however, Salinas had become reclusive and suffered from financial problems.
Salinas' body was discovered by her brother-in-law, Louis Ponce, who had visited the home determined to “find her no matter what” because it'd been such a long time – over two years — since he had last heard from her.
When he entered the home, which was filled with an odor that Ponce described as “awful,” he found her mummified remains near a poster that parodied Rosie the Riveter.
A preliminary autopsy revealed that Salinas had likely died of natural causes.
4The Man Who Lay Dead in His Flat for Two Years Until Cleaners Arrived to Clear His Home
A loner lay dead in his center city flat for two years after no one realized that he had passed away. The skeletal remains of Simon Allen were only discovered when deep cleaners went to his home. In November 2012, his body, which was wearing just a pair of socks, was found lying behind an armchair in the living room of his flat in Brighton, East Sussex.
Eleven days earlier, his landlord and bailiffs had gone to the first-floor property to investigate why his rent had not been paid for several months. Neighbors said that there had been a "musty smell" in the hallway outside the flat before his body was found, but nothing more unusual than that. Police said they believed that Mr. Allen had died in December 2010, when he would have been around 50 years of age.
They were unable to trace any family or friends and found few personal items in the flat, which Mr. Allen had rented since 1999.
Police said that there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death, and that it was impossible to confirm the cause of death.
5The Lonely Florida Woman Who May Have Been Dead for Three Years Before Being Found
In August 2013, the decomposed body of Geneva Chambers was discovered in her Florida home by a landscaper. Once police began investigating, they learned that Chambers preferred solitude when she was alive, telling neighbors to get off her property and angrily turning away a woman who offered her cookies.
Shockingly, Chambers may have been dead in her home for up to three years. According to court documents, foreclosure notices were issued in 2009 and all utilities were turned off by June 2010.
Neighbors believed that Chambers had abandoned the house. However, they had maintained Chambers' lawn in recent years, entirely unaware that her dead body was inside.
Mail that was over a year old, addressed to the 68-year-old woman, was found in her home. Chambers' last known human contact was in April of 2010 during a pawn transaction.
One neighbor stated, "The big question in the air: why some friends and some relatives didn't try to contact her. Very sad situation. A very lonely person ... What kind of life did she have?."
Local police ruled that there was no foul play involved in her death.
6The Man Who was Found Dead in His Foreclosed Home Four Years After His Suicide
Abandoned homes have become an increasingly common sight in a national foreclosure crisis. However, what may lurk behind closed doors could be much worse.
In 2012, a Milwaukee real estate agent entered one such house after it was repossessed due to tax foreclosure to find a sight that he's not likely to forget. Investigators found the body of the owner, David Carter, on the stairs in a "nearly skeletonized" state after remaining undiscovered for up to four years.
Carter, who friends and acquaintances described as "smart and generous" and even "funny," quit his job as a nuisance control officer for the City of Milwaukee in 2007, telling co-workers that he planned to move to New Mexico. Instead, it appears that Carter committed suicide. He was found with a bullet wound through his head and a handgun on his chest on the day when he would have turned 45.
7The Elderly Man Who Died at Least 15 Years Ago and was Found in Bed Still Wearing His Pajamas
The skeleton of a man, complete with pajamas, is believed to have lain undiscovered for more than 15 years in an abandoned house. Discovered in the northern city of Lille, French police are trying to identify the body, which is thought to be that of the elderly owner of the property.
The man lived alone and appeared to have no relatives. Authorities found piles of unopened post in the house dating back to 1996. He was of Spanish origin and was born in 1921, according to French reports.
8The German Man Who was Found Dead in Bed Seven Years Later
In 2007, the corpse of a deceased German man was discovered alone in bed, nearly seven years after the man supposedly passed away. Police in the German city of Essen said that the man was 59-years-old when he died, inferring that the man passed away sometime near the turn of the century. November 30, 2000 is the projected date-of-death for the man, who was single and unemployed when he died. Police believe that he died of natural causes.
The man received a letter from the Welfare Office the day he died. Next to his body police found a pack of cigarettes, a television guide, and some Deutschemark coins (which have been out of circulation since Germany switched over to the Euro).
The man's apartment was located in a building that shares space with numerous office buildings and other apartments. Although many of those apartments are now vacant, one would assume that the smell of a several-year-old rotting corpse would have alerted one or two people over the years, but apparently not.
Certainly the most interesting part of this story lies in the fact that nobody noticed that their grandfather/ friend/ shuffleboard partner had been missing. "No one missed him. No missing person report was ever filed," said local police. Somewhere in western Germany someone has got to be kicking themself for forgetting about the existence of a loved one.
9The Elderly Australian Woman Who was Dead for Eight Years Before Her Body was Found
When an elderly Australian woman apparently vanished from view eight years ago, no one bothered to call the police. Neither relatives, neighbors, nor government officials, who kept paying her welfare benefits into a bank account that sat untouched, noticed her disappearance
In 2011, New South Wales state police discovered Natalie Wood's skeletal remains on the floor of her Sydney home after her sister-in-law finally called them to report that she had not heard from the woman – who would have turned 87– since 2003.
Police were trying to determine exactly when the woman died, but said that they didn't think the death was suspicious. The woman was a recluse who had no relatives except for her sister-in-law, Dzevlan said. The two had a fight in 2003 and never spoke again. Police have not said why the sister-in-law waited years to report that the woman was missing, or what prompted her to call now.
As the years passed, utility companies cut off the power and water to the woman's home. Centrelink, the government's welfare agency, continued to pay benefits to her bank account, which remained untouched. Her mail had been redirected to her sister-in-law's home before 2003, but eventually stopped. Neighbors told police that they hadn't seen her in years and assumed that the house was vacant.
Police said that the woman's home was locked and furnished, but it looked like no one had lived there for years.