The family of a pensioner whose body lay undiscovered in her Southall home for six months are desperate to speak to anyone locally who knew her.
Betty Walsh, 76, who died in 2011, had family in her native Ireland who she corresponded with by letter as she did not own a phone. When seven months passed with no response, family members made the overseas trip to the UK in November 2011 to investigate.
When her nephew Kevin and his daughter Caroline Walsh (Betty's great niece and god daughter) arrived at the address in Lynhurst Avenue, they were horrified to discover a badly decomposed body.
Caroline said: "Betty would come to Ireland frequently to visit us. The last time we saw her was in 2009 in County Kildare. When we would come to London she’d insist on coming to meet us as we didn’t know how to get out to Southall on the buses."
In a coroner’s report cause of death was reported as being ‘unascertained’ due to the ‘advanced state of decomposition of a mummification type’ of the body. It was concluded that she had been dead for six months although no exact time of death could be given.
Official records of Betty have been very sparse and her family, having found no details about her life in the years before she died, are now desperate for anyone who may have known her to come forward.
Caroline added: "When she didn’t reply to my letter in March 2011 and then subsequent letters we became worried and travelled to her house. We were horrified by what we found. The door was not locked you could have just pushed it open but her body was blocking it from the other side.
"We were so shocked. The house was a wreck. Absolutely uninhabitable. She had lived there, we thought, for over 50 years but definitely not in recent years as there was no electricity or running water. It was totally derelict and perishingly cold.
"None of her personal affects were there. No recent mail. She always carried a brown leather handbag but that wasn’t there either. Her purse was in her pocket which had some change and a piece of paper with my father’s address written on it and there was a receipt for juice and water from Lidl’s on Southall Broadway dated April."
Caroline and her father could find none of the recent letters at the house and Betty's bank accounts had been untouched. Going through the mammoth task of tracing her last years the family discovered she had virtually no medical record.
Caroline said: "I'm convinced there’s something more to this than meets the eye. It just doesn’t add up that someone can live in an area for over 50 years and die without anyone knowing about her. No friends, no records or physical evidence of her recent movements. We are desperate for anyone who knew her to get in touch with us. I just can’t accept that she had no one in London who knew her."
Betty Walsh had worked at Freeland Nursing Home in Brent until retiring in September 1988 aged 53. The coroner and police ruled that there was no evidence of third party involvement in her death.
Anyone who knew Betty and can help her family piece together her last years is asked contact Caroline on 0035 385 728 5613 or on email at email@example.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org