The grim discovery long after the death of a Regina woman is serving as a reminder to check on the welfare of neighbours.
The woman, described by police as a hoarder who lived alone, died in her sleep and no one noticed. After not hearing from her in a while, the woman’s estranged family asked police to do a welfare check in April 2017.
According to the coroner’s report, her body had been there decomposing for a period of one to two years before it was discovered.
“What they found was the skeletal remains of a female who had gone to sleep and passed away in her sleep,” said Superintendent Corey Zaharuk.
The skeleton was found lying in the bed after a challenging search through the home. The house was filled with various items, boxes and was very difficult for officers to move through the rooms. Mail was stacking up outside.
“There was some concern with mice in the house,” Zaharuk added.
Responding to a death is something Regina police do almost every day and occasionally they come across a scene where the body is in an advanced stage of decomposition. Zaharuk said finding skeletal remains like this is unusual.
“I’ve never seen a case like that in Regina,” he said. “This case is very unique. I would call it exceptional.”
The coroner’s report could not provide an exact time of death and explained it is impossible to determine if the woman was alive when her utilities were disconnected. Her death prompted the coroner to call for SaskPower, SaskEnergy and the City of Regina to review their policies and incorporate the practice of getting police to do a welfare check before turning off vital utilities like power, heat and water. The coroner said if may have been able to help her if she was still alive or handle her death in a more timely and dignified manner.
Shortly after the discovery, the Regina Police Service launched a media campaign called ‘Be a Good Neighbour.’ If you haven’t seen your neighbour in a while but are uncomfortable checking in, you’re encouraged to call police.
“There might be a pet that seems to be uncared for, the lawn isn’t mowed when it normally is, the driveway isn’t shoveled,” said Zaharuk.
While the campaign is an attempt to reduce similar cases, Zaharuk made it clear there is no blame laid on the neighbours of the woman in this case, adding sometimes these cases are unavoidable.