This week we saw a fair amount of news coverage about the decomposed body of an elderly woman found in a Piedmont home, and how the owner of the home had not been seen in years.
Sadly, another senior woman died alone in her home, and her passing also went unnoticed for an extended period of time.
And this case happened in Walnut Creek.
We were alerted to this case from another crazy in suburbia mom. And here's the very disturbing story I was able to piece together, thanks to the help of Walnut Creek police Sgt. Lanny Edwards and a deputy with the Contra Costa County Coroner's department:
On the afternoon of Wednesday, February 18, a workman at the Diablo Keys residential complex, in the 300 block of North Civic Drive, entered a condomium unit to install a fire alarm.
And that's when he made a horrifying discovery: He found a 62-year-old woman sitting on the toilet.
She was dead.
Police and coroner’s deputies later determined that, from the condition of the body and from talking to neighbors and witnesses, that she had probably been dead for five to six months.
A coroner’s deputy described the woman's body as "partially mummified." He also said the cause of death was natural causes. He added that his office had been unable to locate a next of kin, so he could not release her name. Her case has been turned over to the county’s Public Administrator’s office, which investigates and handles the estates of people who die with no will or without someone available to oversee the estate.
Walnut Creek Sgt. Edwards said police don’t suspect anything illegal occurred in this woman’s death--as in the Piedmont case. Police in Piedmont are investigating whether someone knew that the woman was dead but “had improperly disposed of her body"--as in just left her there.
With regard to the Walnut Creek woman, the coroner’s deputy agreed with my observation—that it can be easy for some people to fall through the cracks in our society. Just disappear with no one—family or friends—being clued in. And this can even happen to a woman who must have been doing okay enough in her life that she owned a condominium in a pleasant residential Walnut Creek complex.
This case makes me think of elderly people in my Walnut Creek neighborhood who live alone, in the homes they bought 30, 40, 50 years ago. If they don’t have family or neighbors checking in periodically, there is a risk that they could fall through these cracks. They could suffer from some medical emergency—heart attack, stroke—or they could take a tumble in their house or back yard and not be able to call for help.
Edwards agreed that this woman’s case is “sad." He added: "I agree with your assessment that we all need to be good neighbors and watch over each other.”