Woman may have lain dead for over a year inside her home

12:35 PM, Feb 28, 2009   |    comments
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Hampshire, England -- The virtually mummified body of a British recluse may have lain undiscovered in her home for more than a year.

Suzanne Harding was found locked inside the bathroom of her home, lying on a sleeping bag, an inquest heard.

Her body was so badly decomposed, she was almost a “mummified” skeleton, making it impossible to establish exactly how and when she died.

The coroner learned how Harding, who had cut herself off from the world, was found after British Gas broke into her home to disconnect her supply in October 2008.

The bathroom was locked, so they called police, who broke in and found her lying on the floor, partially clothed and on a sleeping bag.

The mountain of mail on the doormat and food in the fridge indicated she probably died in the summer of 2007.

The inquest hearing was informed Harding had severed all ties with her family and friends and retreated into her three-bedroom semi-detached home about 12 years ago.

Medical reports said Harding, who was either 49 or 50 at the time of her death, was suffering from a delusional disorder, believing people were trying to break into her home.

Her father Alan Harding said, “We used to be close, going to the cinema, theatre and out to dinner. All of a sudden we had a letter saying she didn’t want any visitors.

“I thought it was just me, but it turned out to be everyone. I went to talk, but she wouldn’t let me in.”

Simon Burge, deputy central Hampshire coroner, described it as an “unusual and very sad case.”

Burge said the advanced decomposition made it impossible to establish a cause of death, and so returned an open verdict.

Andrew Napier, The Southern Daily Echo

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