- Laura Winham, 38, lay dead for more than three years in Surrey, England, before being found.
- Winham, who had schizophrenia, was estranged from her family.
- Her family alleges that she was “abandoned and left to die” by national health and social services.
A woman with severe mental illness was found in a “mummified, almost skeletal state” after lying dead in her apartment in Surrey, England, for three and a half years, according to The Guardian.
Laura Winham, 38, was found in May 2021 when her family tried to enter her home to inform her of her father’s passing.
When she did not open the door, police forcibly entered her home, where she was found dead.
Winham had stopped writing in her calendar in November 2017, shortly after writing “I need help” on it.
Winham, who had schizophrenia, had become estranged from her family.
Her family alleges that she was “abandoned and left to die” by national health and social services, as they claim they failed to act on her deteriorating health and carry out routine welfare checks.
“Everybody who was in contact with Laura and had a duty to her at some stage simply wiped their hands of her and forgot her. She was abandoned and left to die,” Winham’s sister Nicky said, per The Guardian.
“No one should have to suffer the way Laura did due to the lack of support given to her mental health. We now must live with the devastating sadness of what has happened, and we are sharing our story because we do not want any other families to suffer in this way,” she said.
Nicky Winham said that the family was unable to maintain contact with her sister and that due to her schizophrenia, she believed that her sister would harm her, Sky News reported.
She made the comments while speaking at a pre-inquest hearing at Surrey Coroner’s Court, which is due to begin on Monday.
Iftikhar Manzoor, a lawyer acting for the family, said that “so many red flags” had been missed, per Sky News.
Lawyers added that nobody had physically checked on Winham in the years following her death despite her having been sectioned twice.
Winham’s family said they believed authorities missed several opportunities to check on her and intervene.
Her death is believed to have taken place just weeks after police visited her flat and reported to social services that she was exhibiting obvious signs of self-neglect, including a lack of food and unawareness of local services she had access to, per The Guardian.
Social services attempted to call her, despite police telling them her phone was not working and sent her information about local services in the mail before closing the case without making a welfare check.
Per The Guardian, a Surrey county council spokesperson 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.”