Lifestyle & Belief

Sydney woman dead for years before remains found

The remains of an elderly woman from Sydney were reportedly found Tuesday years after the woman died.

The woman, who would have turned 87 next month, was last seen in 2003, but no one reported her missing to the police, the Associated Press reports. Her neighbors thought her house was vacated, her one surviving relative did not ask questions and the government continued paying her welfare benefits.

After the woman's sister-in-law suddenly decided to tell the police she had not heard from the woman since 2003, New South Wales state police told the AP Wednesday they went to the woman's home and found her skeletal remains on the floor of an upstairs bedroom.

Her house was located on Kippax Street in Surry Hills, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

"It's sad that the woman appears to have died several years ago without anyone noticing," police Acting Superintendent Zoran Dzevlan told AP.

The sister-in-law was the woman's only surviving relative, and they reportedly had a fight in 2003.

Neighbors thought the woman had moved away long ago.

"We saw her many years ago, but assumed she moved away," a neighbor told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Others said they were horrified to learn an elderly woman lived there and been forgotten about.

"To know that there was an old person who was living in that house who I could have done something for to help, I'm just absolutely horrified I didn't know," Katherine McQuire told ABC News.

Over the course of the eight years, the government continued to deposit the woman's welfare checks into her account.

"To hear today that an elderly lady can pass away, be dead for eight years and for Centrelink to still be sending checks to her bank account and for those checks not to be cashed — surely that must set off the alarm bells within government," New South Wales Police Minister Mike Gallacher told AP.

"(It) really does highlight the need for this state and indeed our community to work closer at building relationships with our community."