Pia Farrenkopf, a Michigan woman missing for six years, was found in the garage of her home and no one knew that she was there, reports AJC.com.
According to neighbors, Farrenkopf was a frequent traveler so her absence wasn’t suspicious. Her bills were paid through auto-pay and her neighbors kept her grass cut.
It wasn’t until the bank foreclosed on her home, after months of non-payment, that a contractor sent to make repairs discovered Farrenkopf’s mummified body in the car in her garage. The key was still in the ignition.
“She had $54,000 in her account, and her bills were being deducted,” said Oakland County Michigan Undersheriff Mike McCabe to explain why Farrenkopf wasn’t missed. “I’ve been doing this 37 years, never seen anything like this before.”
Farrenkopf’s sister said that the times she would call the phone just rang, so she hung up.
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McCabe says neighbors chalked up the woman’s absences to her returning to Germany for long periods of time.
Despite years without a living owner, the house was never broken into, he said.
Authorities told WXYZ that the house appears to have black mold inside it, and that detectives entered the building Thursday wearing hazardous material suits.
Another neighbor, Darryl Tillery, told the Detroit Free Press that mail never piled up at the house and the lawn never grew out of order. McCabe said one of the neighbors cut the grass for years.
Police were dispatched to the house for a welfare check in 2007 after a neighbor reported not having seen the owner in a while. After seeing no signs of anything amiss, police went on their way, McCabe said.
Authorities are still waiting for a toxicology report, which will take four to six weeks, before determining the cause of death. The medical examiner found no signs of trauma to the body, McCabe said.
Dr. Bernardino Pacris, the county deputy medical examiner who conducted the autopsy, told the Detroit Free Press that the woman’s skin was still intact, but that the internal organs had decomposed.
Pacris told the newspaper that during the mummification process, skin develops a parchment-like consistency and leathery texture. Finding a body in such a condition is unusual, he said, but “once in a while, we see this.”
Edward Caroll, Farrenkopf’s stepfather, said that Farrenkopf didn’t answer the wedding invitation that they sent when he married her mother three years ago.
“I tried to find her through the internet and everything and I never could find her. And I wrote a letter a couple times and I think some of them came back,” he told WXYZ. “Her mother hadn’t heard from her for years and years. A lot of her children, in fact, her oldest child, she hadn’t seen her probably in 30 years,” he said.
A pending autopsy will determine the exact cause of Farrenkopf’s death.