Woman lay dead, undiscovered, in flat for over 2 years
Recently, a bizarre incident came to light in the United Kingdom where a housing group continued taking rent from a tenant, who died in her flat and lay undetected for two and a half years! The woman, identified as Sheila Seleoane by her dental records, was found lying on the floor of her London flat in a severely decomposed state in February this year.
The Daily Mail reported that Seleoane, a former medical secretary, was unmarried and her estranged family resides in South Africa. According to the neighbors, she was last seen in August 2019 and her death apparently took place around that time. Her neighbors said that they had reported to Peabody Housing Group after detecting a foul smell coming from her flat in October 2019.
Wells Chomutare, director of neighborhoods at Peabody, said they were trying to analyze the situation and were unable to join the dots. He said that they are not expected to enter forcefully until and unless there is some emergency or extreme situation.
Several letters and complaints reportedly kept piling up in front of Seleoane's flat, following which the police were called to check on her twice. However, they felt that they didn't have enough reasons to force their way into her flat and left. The gas supply was also cut off after officials tried to conduct a gas check in June 2020 but got no response.
A miscommunication from a Met Police controller led to the conclusion that Seleoane was seen alive, and Peabody was informed of it. Detective Chief Inspector Amanda Mawhinney told the inquest the controller retired from the Met last year but may be referred for disciplinary action.
According to Southwark Coroners Court, the 61-year-old paid her last rent in August 2019. After she failed to pay the rent post-August (for obvious reasons), Peabody applied for the rent to directly come out of her Universal Credit payments. They have now pledged to repay this money. "We didn't ask the most fundamental question - is Sheila ok?" said Peabody's chief executive, Ian McDermott.
Peabody said 89 attempts were made to contact Seleoane, but none were successful. The housing group apologized to all tenants for the "missed opportunities" in Seleoane's body being undetected for over two years. As per her general physician reports, in August 2019, Seleoane made an appointment saying she was feeling "wheezy and sometimes out of breath," but she never turned up for the appointment.
Seleoane's other medical reports said that she was suffering from bowel inflammation and Crohn's disease. The postmortem report could not reveal the exact cause of her death since her body had severely decomposed. Her doctor Julian Morris said, "Any death is sad. To lie undetected for in all likelihood over two years is difficult to fathom in 2022."