News >> Browse Articles >> Off Beat


Police: Woman Was Dead 8 Years Before Remains Found

Associated Press

July 06, 2011

SYDNEY (AP) — When an elderly Australian woman apparently vanished from view eight years ago, no one bothered to call the police. Not her relatives, her neighbors, or government officials, who kept paying her welfare benefits into a bank account that sat untouched.

New South Wales state police said Wednesday that they discovered the woman’s skeletal remains on the floor of her Sydney home on Tuesday, after her sister-in-law finally called them to report that she had not heard from the woman — who would have turned 87 next month — since 2003.

“It’s sad that the woman appears to have died several years ago without anyone noticing,” said police Acting Superintendent Zoran Dzevlan.

Police were trying to determine exactly when the woman died, but said they didn’t think the death was suspicious.

The woman, whose name was not released by police, 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 the woman 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, police said. Centrelink, the government’s welfare agency, continued to pay her 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 they hadn’t seen her in years and assumed the house was vacant.

Police said the woman’s home was locked and furnished, but looked like no one had lived there for years.

“To hear today that an elderly lady can pass away, be dead for eight years and for Centrelink to still be sending checks to her bank account and for those checks not to be cashed — surely that must set off the alarm bells within government,” New South Wales Police Minister Mike Gallacher said.

“(It) really does highlight the need for this state and indeed our community to work closer at building relationships with our community,” he said.

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

  • Flags_and_stars_max50


    about 3 years ago



  • Reserve_max50


    about 3 years ago


    all I can say is WOW!!

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 3 years ago


    so sad.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 3 years ago

    Wow. This is not good. There were a bunch of red flags here. Someone really should have seen this and checked in on it.

  • Sparkle_girl_max50


    about 3 years ago

    8260 Comments heartless and uncaring people can be this day and time.

  • Sfa_iv_max50


    about 3 years ago


    How can a family and caring friend or even neighbors miss that? I pray for the loss.

  • Pug_max600_max50


    about 3 years ago


    No one noticed? It does happen in the US.

  • Untitledma28839986-0002_max50


    about 3 years ago


    Sad, very sad.

  • Picture_100_max50


    about 3 years ago


    Amazing story. I am sure this has happened in the U.S. and has yet to be discovered. If you are old and stay to yourself it could happen here. It is good that she will finally be put to rest. It is also interesting that she has been collecting the local version of SSI after years of death.

  • Vpsomourningband_max50


    about 3 years ago


    This is sad. The sister-in-law didn't find it odd when the mail was forwarded to her address and then stopped???? WTH! When being paid via direct deposit how would Centrelink know she's not using that money? They are authorized to deposit money not check to see if she's using the funds.
    Bump wiseass0282, it does pay to stay on good terms with a few people.

  • 1979_max50


    about 3 years ago


    Shame that nobody cared enough to bother checking up on her.

  • John_groh_max50


    about 3 years ago


    Isn't direct deposit a grand thing. The Gov. will get that all back. Thats one of the problems with being a recluse. If no one hears from you or sees you around. It's normal. Pays to have at least a few friends.

PoliceLink School Finder

Save time in your search for a criminal justice degree program. Use PoliceLink's School Finder to locate schools online and in your area.

Get Info

* In the event that we cannot find a program from one of our partner schools that matches your specific area of interest, we may show schools with similar or unrelated programs.