Woman’s automatic payments hid her death for 6 years, body found mummified

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 backseat 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.

“I’ve been doing this 37 years. Never seen anything like this before,” said Undersheriff Mike McCabe of Oakland County, Michigan, just outside Detroit.

Rarely heard from

The woman, who authorities aren’t identifying until they’ve informed her family, paid her bills from her bank account through auto-pay, according to McCabe.

Neighbors said they didn’t know much about the dead woman, describing her as in her 40s and of German descent.

“She really kept to herself. We never really heard anything from her,” neighbor Caitlyn Talbot told CNN affiliate WXYZ.

Talbot said she wasn’t aware of anyone having seen the woman, who traveled a lot, in about six years.

“She was probably there for a couple of days, then she’d leave for a week, then she’d come back. Then she’d leave for a month and come back,” Talbot said.

McCabe says neighbors chalked up the woman’s absences to her returning to Germany for long periods of time.

Despite years without a living owner, the house was never broken into, he said.

Authorities told WXYZ that the house appears to have black mold inside it, and that detectives entered the building Thursday wearing hazardous material suits.

Another neighbor, Darryl Tillery, told the Detroit Free Press that mail never piled up at the houseand the lawn never grew out of order. McCabe said one of the neighbors cut the grass for years.

Cause of death undetermined

Police were dispatched to the house for a welfare check in 2007 after a neighbor reported not having seen the owner in a while. After seeing no signs of anything amiss, police went on their way, McCabe said.

Authorities are still waiting for a toxicology report, which will take four to six weeks, before determining the cause of death. The medical examiner found no signs of trauma to the body, McCabe said.

Dr. Bernardino Pacris, the county deputy medical examiner who conducted the autopsy, told the Detroit Free Press that the woman’s skin was still intact, but that the internal organs had decomposed.

Pacris told the newspaper that during the mummification process, skin develops a parchment-like consistency and leathery texture. Finding a body in such a condition is unusual, he said, but “once in a while, we see this.”

Attempts by CNN to reach Dr. Pacris late Thursday were unsuccessful.

By Jethro Mullen and Kevin Conlon,CNN

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

20 comments

  • FaithC

    Nobody cared enough about this woman to find out where she was. Did she not know anybody who would find it odd she did not talk to or communicate with them for such a long period of time? That is very sad.

  • Kathy

    What a sad story…no friends, family or neighbors that care enough to check on this person! I pay every single bill I have by auto pay but I still get a mailbox full of mail weekly that would pile up if not brought in. Didn’t one neighbor care enough during this horrid winter care to check and see why the driveway or sidewalk wasn’t cleared? Human interaction is becoming a thing of the past….don’t talk to anyone if you don’t have to.

  • crissy

    She must have had a lot of money to not have to worry for while seein as she paid her bills 6 years after she died

  • Ashley

    Did the women not have a job? Even if she traveled for a living, it still seems as if someone would have been suspicious of the situation.

  • Rose

    So very sad that she had no one in her life who cared for her enough to miss her or follow up with her in all that time. Sounds like she may have committed suicide and if she did, it’s no wonder. We’re not meant to be that alone in life.

  • Meghan

    This seems unreal to me. So her mailbox held 6 years worth of mail, she had a bank account with 6 years worth of bill payments? Does the bank not say that these auto pays are the only activity in her account? What about the mailman. Did she have a job? A family? A friend?

  • Jackie

    Hard to believe , they said she received welfare …..how could she be receiving welfare checks with that much money in the bank ??????? Also very sad, some one should have noticed!!!

    • Anthony

      “Hard to believe , they said she received welfare” CHECK! Which means another living human stopped in to CHECK on her well being!

    • abritt

      No they said that the police were sent to her house to do a “welfare check”, meaning someone called police to go check on the woman b/c someone was worried about her. Unfortunately the police that “checked” on her didn’t find her in her garage, & whoever sent them to check on her didn’t go try to find out where she went out what happened to get either….either way it’s very very sad that she could’ve been there for so long with not one person who checked everywhere in the house for her. I’m blessed to have a family & it’s very upsetting that this woman obviously had nobody

  • shall17

    they did nt say she recieved a welfare check!! they said someone called the police to do a welfare check on her, which means someone was suspicious nad the cops didnt see anything abnormal at home! gezz read the words

  • dobydog1

    they are not releasing her name until her relatives are notified? are these the relatives who have done nothing since she disappeared 6 years ago?

  • its my business

    This seems very sad to me. If I had 6 years of junk mail in my box – it would be noticed. It would be noticed after 2 weeks! This is extremely weird. Who mummified her and laid her in the backseat of her car? I have so many questions.

    • Paul Sullivan

      Nobody “mummified” her. Certain conditions (exposure to the elements, etc.) while others (airtight Subaru’s) will cause the body to “mummify”. Thatpinko fflagship must have stunk to high heaven!

  • Jackie

    Thanks for correcting me I definatly read that wrong thought it was saying she received a check . Just the same if they were called to come out and CHECK on her they should have followed thru and made sure they physically talked with her and made sure she was ok before they closed the case.

  • Paul Sullivan

    The story leaves out that the woman voted as a Democrat several times after her death. Look it up, it’s true. No voter fraud here, people… move along.

  • Paul Sullivan

    The woman was retired and her pension and 401K were on direct deposit. How do you people NOT know this story? Do you NOT watch the news? Is this how we got Obama for a 2nd term? Good God!

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