Woman’s death went unnoticed for years: London court inquest

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The skeletal remains of Sheila Seleoane have been found on the sofa in her apartment more than two years after her death went unnoticed, according to authorities in London.

A local court has opened an investigation into how she died, when and why no one noticed.

Little is known about Seleoane, the daughter of a South African immigrant who grew up in Britain. Even his age – 58, according to BBC reports, but 61, according to The Standard reports on his death certificate – is uncertain. She lived alone in south London and worked as a medical secretary.

Sometime in 2019, in late summer or fall, Seleoane passed away, News 24 reported.

But no one noticed.

In February 2022, London Metropolitan Police forced their way into her flat and found her decomposing remains on the sofa, dressed in blue pajamas and a white shirt with deflated balloons nearby, the Daily reported. Mail.

Authorities identified his remains using dental records, but could not determine his cause of death due to “advanced state of decomposition”, the BBC reported.

On July 21, South London Coroner’s Court held a hearing to investigate his mysterious and unnoticed death, News 24 reported.

Seleoane’s doctor last saw her in August 2019, the BBC reported. That same month, she stopped paying the rent.

In September, her neighbors complained to Peabody Trust, the building’s owner, of a terrible smell coming from Seleoane’s flat that filled the hallway, the BBC reported.

A resident said he contacted the owner more than 50 times, the Daily Mail reported. Eventually the smell started to fade.

In March 2020, the landlord began withdrawing Seleoane’s rent from his universal credit, monthly payments from the UK government.

In June, his gas was cut off, the BBC reported.

In mid-October 2020, officers visited Seleoane’s home twice within a week to check on his well-being, The Standard reported. They never made contact with her, but mistakenly told her owner that she was “safe and healthy”.

The owner “took no further action to investigate”, reported The Standard.

Seleone’s mail continued to pile up, increasingly concerning her neighbours, The Guardian reported.

On February 18, 2022, Storm Eunice hit Britain, causing widespread chaos and opening the windows of Seleoane’s apartment, The Guardian reported.

Hearing banging noises coming from the flat, Seleoane’s neighbors called the police to check on her, according to The Daily Mail. It wasn’t until the agents returned for the third time that they found Seleone’s remains.

Coroner Julian Morris said at the July 21 hearing: “Every death is sad. Going undetected for more than two years, in all likelihood, is hard to fathom in 2022,” the BBC reported.

Seleoane’s only remaining family is her estranged brother in Britain and long-lost relatives in South Africa, News 24 reported. Her remains were sent to South Africa where she was buried.

According to The Standard, officials now believe she died of natural causes, likely related to the “wheezing and difficulty breathing” she told her doctor when she visited in August 2019.

The failure of her owner and the police to notice her death prompted independent inquiries to provide recommendations to avoid another similar scenario, The Standard reported.

Peabody Trust has apologized to residents, but everyone living upstairs in Seleoane has asked to move, The Guardian reported.

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Aspen Pflughoeft covers real-time news for McClatchy. She graduated from Minerva University where she studied communications, history and international politics. Previously, she reported for Deseret News.

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