Woman dead for three weeks before discovered

By Amy Shanks

Mystery still surrounds the death of 37-year-old woman whose body lay undiscovered in a Hastings flat for up to three weeks.

One neighbour approached by Hawke's Bay Today said the woman had lived at the Duke St address for about two years, but kept a low profile.

"I would know her to wave at or say "hi" to as she rode past on her bike, but we weren't close," the woman said.

Another neighbour said she noticed mail piling up in the letterbox and had been meaning to go and check on her.

"I could see the papers had been bleached by the sun and thought I should go over, but I didn't get around to knocking on the door."

Aside from her two cats, the woman had people come to visit and was quite close with a woman who lived in the street.

However, no one could recall seeing her for the past month or so.

It is believed she was unemployed at the time of her death, but had previous connections with the army and worked as a personal trainer in the past.

Police and ambulance were called to the scene about 8pm on Wednesday to investigate a sudden death. A body was recovered and a post mortem examination was being carried out to determine her identity and cause of death.

Hawke's Bay Senior Sergeant Dan Foley, who was one of the first to arrive, said there were no lights on in the house and the case had been referred to Hastings CIB.

"There were a couple of factors that made us think it should be passed on to them for initial investigation," he said.

It was uncommon for a death such as this to go un-noticed for so long, police coronial services co-ordinator Sergeant Greg Macklow said.

"No, fortunately it doesn't happen that often."

Police became involved to investigate whether foul play was a factor and to help find a cause of death.

"Firstly we rule out that there's been no suspicious activity, then pursue inquiries on behalf of the coroner," he said.

In general, it was people who kept to themselves or the elderly who were most likely not to be found.

A post mortem examination will be conducted on Tuesday.


Unnoticed deaths

  • June 2011: Renowned musician Richard Giese, 85, lay dead and unnoticed on the floor of his apartment in Wellington for 12 days before he was discovered.

  • September 2011: The body of 88-year-old pensioner Michael Clarke was found in his bedsit in Wellington. It was thought he was dead for more than a year.

  • March 2013: Alvin Singh, 32, lay dead in his car on a busy South Auckland road for five days before a resident raised the alarm.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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