Schizophrenic woman found in ‘mummified state’ after she lay dead for four years

A schizophrenic woman was found in a "mummified almost skeletal state" after laying dead for almost four year in her social housing.

Laura Winham had written 'I need help' on her calendar a short time before her death, but no-one from social services or from her apparent support network had checked on her wellbeing in years.

Mail Online reported that the 38-year-old's gas and electric bills continued to be paid through housing benefits even after she had died.

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In May 2021 her family asked police to break into her flat in Woking, Surrey, after her brother Roy peered through her letter box and saw what he thought was a foot.

The family left Laura to professionals at the young woman's request, as she reportedly heard voices in her head that told her to harm them, according to her sister Nicky.

"We always hoped she would get better with professional help and that one day our contact would resume," she told the Mail.

"We never believed, for one second, we would end up finding her dead on her floor having laid there for so long without anyone knowing."

Laura's cause of death was not established, after authorities identified her through dental records. It's believed she died in November 2017.

Laura had a slew of health issues, including Goldenhar Syndrome, which is a rare congenital condition characterised by the abnormal development of the eye, ear and spine.

She had also struggled with her mental health since her early teens.

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Despite being told her phone was not working, social workers tried to make contact with Laura after her Disability Living Allowance was stopped in 2016, when she failed to respond to Department of Work and Pensions letters.

She was seen by police a year later, who reported her case of 'self neglect' to social services.

Authorities couldn't make contact so closed her case without ever establishing contact with the vulnerable woman.

It is thought she died weeks later having written 'I need help' on her calendar.

"Laura has been so badly let down. It's just heart-breaking to think of how she lived in her last few years, unable to ask for help, without anyone there for her, it's just tragic," her sister said, as an inquest into her death looms.

She added: "There were so many warning signs, from the social care and mental health teams to her landlords, yet everyone seems to have turned a blind eye."

Surrey County Council said: "This is a truly tragic case and our sympathies and deepest condolences are with Laura's family and friends.

"It's important that every aspect of this complex case is reviewed and we're committed to participating fully in the inquest process.

"This will include providing any information that is needed to support the Coroner's enquiries."


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