Authorities Find Woman’s Remains in Her Home, Eight Years After Her Death

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It wasn’t until eight years later, when police found a woman’s remains left behind in her house, that they realized no one had known she had died at all.

Australian police discovered the remains of Natalie Wood’s skeleton on the floor of her Sydney home, eight years after she died, on Tuesday. It would seem that her twilight years, and perhaps memory, had not been quite so kind to her.

Not a single person had noticed her missing – Wood’s only living relative was a sister-in-law with whom she had a falling out with in 2003. Even her neighbors didn’t inquire into her disappearance: they thought the house was vacant, though, it would seem that they did definitely notice the rats running around.

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Likewise, the utility companies simply shut off services to her house without investigating, and government agencies were still sending her social security checks despite the fact that weren’t being cashed for years.

A recluse by nature, the woman’s death wasn’t discovered this week until her sister-in-law went looking for her, for unknown reasons. Wood would have celebrated her 87th birthday next month.

Authorities found the front door locked, and the house looked like a ghost town, with no visible sign of life. No foul play has been suspected – despite the unusual circumstances of the discovery, her death seems to have been the opposite.

The local acting police superintendent probably says it best, though, when he commented that, “It’s [just] sad that the woman appears to have died several years ago without anyone noticing.”

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Erica Ho is a reporter at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @ericamho. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.