Woman missing over six years found dead inside her own house

Eunice Lydia Workman (listed as Burwell-Workman on Charley), a 77-year-old California woman, disappeared in December 2002. Just now they’ve found her body buried under a pile of debris inside her own house. Okay, the body hasn’t been officially identified as Eunice’s yet, but whose else could it be?

She apparently was a pack rat and accumulated a whole houseful of crap, and the relatives are only now going through the process of digging it out. Perhaps they wanted to sell the house. I’ve heard of this sort of thing happening before. Most famously, a pair of extremely eccentric recluse brothers in New York City, I think. One of them was blind and pretty much completely disabled. The other took care of him. The able brother was crushed by a pile of their accumulated stuff and the disabled one starved to death with no one to help him. I’ve known people like that, even a certain member of my immediate family, whom I can totally imagine suffocating under a heap of her own stuff someday. It’s so sad. What a way to die.

More articles:

The San Jose Mercury News
The Oakland Tribune
KTVU San Francisco

20 thoughts on “Woman missing over six years found dead inside her own house

  1. Aimee March 27, 2009 / 12:28 pm

    Yes, you’re thinking of the Collyer brothers, very famous case. How awful.
    I would still really like to know how this poor old lady cold be dead in her own home for SIX YEARS and in that time nobody made any kind of start on going through her house. YOu’d think, wouldn’t you, that once she was reported missing, the police and/or her relatives would have gone to her house, took one look at the accummulation of stuff, and thought “We better look through this mess and make sure she hasn’t gotten buried in it.”
    I have a cynical feeling this isn’t the end of that little episode.
    ON Anna’s News Clippings (www.asdf.org is the start page, I think) just a couple months back, they featured a story about an elderly Englishman who had constructed an elaborate maze in his house, then became lost in it and wandered around in it till he died by dehydration.
    Obviously this fellow was not entirely in his right mind, and I’m guessing Mrs. WOrkman wasn’t either.
    Boy, things sure do get exciting when you try to take a break, don’t they? 🙂

  2. Anthony March 27, 2009 / 5:29 pm

    Thanks Aimee for coming up with the Collyer brothers. Reading the post, I was going nuts trying to remember the name.

    Since we’re being treated to increased blog entries on Meaghan’s “vacation,” how about one on the West Mesa/Albuquerque case (the whole city apparently believes a rogue cop is the culprit), or, for variety’s sake, a dissertation on Italy and Amanda Knox? The latter doesn’t involve missing persons, of course, but what the heck. I say she’s guilty as sin.

  3. Meaghan March 27, 2009 / 5:35 pm

    I actually hadn’t heard of Amanda Knox till I read your post; I had to look her up. I think it’s disgusting that an accused murderer has attained such “pop celebrity” status and appears on the cover of People, etc. Extensive coverage of a murder trial is one thing, but glorifying the defendant like that is just…ick.

    I may yet write about the Albuquerque cases. It’s just so sad.

  4. Anthony March 27, 2009 / 5:55 pm

    “Foxy Knoxy” (I HATE that usage!) is either the victim of Italy’s bizarrely ineffective (and, beyond that, dangerous) Polizia di Stato (about which, see Doug Preston’s great book, ‘The Monster of Florence’), or…..she’s, uh, guilty as sin. (Love this parallel structure?) I followed the case because of its British component (the dead girl). In terms of her pop-cult status, it appears Italy has learned well from America, ironically speaking of course.

  5. Aimee March 27, 2009 / 7:27 pm

    The Amanda Knox thing hasn’t gotten very much publicity in the US, I don’t think. I only heard of it through the http://www.crimenews2000.com site.
    Do the people of Albuquerque have any evidence that a “rogue cop” is to blame? As opposed to say, any nutjob with a fake badge?

  6. Meaghan March 27, 2009 / 7:35 pm

    I think they have a specific (dead) suspect who was a cop.

  7. Anthony March 27, 2009 / 7:38 pm

    In re: Albuquerque PD, according to what I read on Topix.net and then a couple other sites, yes, APD and the associated power structure is rife with corruption and nefarious, “law in their own hands” rank & file. While one allows for a certain amount of hyperbole in re: posting on Topix, it did appear that, historically, law enforcement has a dismal reputation there.

    The Knox case also interests me because the first time I saw a picture of her, my “amoral, very possibly sociopathic, personage ahead!” alarm went off. Not sure if she’s guilty or if the Polizia are setting her up, but I’m betting on the former. Just a hunch.

  8. Donna March 29, 2009 / 8:49 pm

    Years ago, when I lived in Worcester, MA an elderly woman was found dead in her house. She had been dead for 4 years, laying on her kitchen floor with a telephone reciever next to her. Police theorized she felt ill, and tried to call 911 before her demise. No one reported her as missing. Her power, telephone and water had been disconnected for non-payment. Her car sat in her driveway, neighbors close by. The water department had actually gone into her basement for a water leak in the neighborhood. She had 1 brother who wasn’t close to her, and didn’t think it was unusual not hearing from her. I don’t recall why she was discovered, but the issue is she was deceased all that time, didn’t go to work and her car stayed parked in the same position for years. No one noticed?? These stories break my heart, these are human beings.

  9. Meaghan March 30, 2009 / 10:14 am

    I read of a similar thing happening in Great Britain. An elderly woman lay dead in front of her TV in her apartment for several years before she was discovered. She was very reclusive. She received some kind of pension or benefit check that was automatically deposited in her bank account, then the bills (rent, electric, etc) were automatically paid from that account, so she didn’t miss any payments and nobody wondered where she was at.

  10. Meaghan March 30, 2009 / 10:19 am

    Incidentally, a few years ago I calculated that if my brother who lives with me were to die in our house during the summer months, it might be weeks before anyone noticed. My brother and I don’t get along and hardly ever speak to each other, and my parents are gone during the summer. Sometimes a week or more will pass when I don’t actually see him, though I hear him moving around the house. He sleeps in a room in the back of the house, behind his closed bedroom door, then there’s another hallway door before you get to the main part of the house where I live. I have no reason to go back there. I have a chronically stuffy nose and a reduced sense of smell, so I may not notice any odor, or if I do I may attribute it to a dead mouse or something. My brother’s been known to be unreliable as far as keeping people informed of his whereabouts is concerned — he’s dropped out of sight before. If his friends want to talk to him they call the land line, which I never answer, because anyone who knows me calls my cell phone. So if he were to expire quietly his bedroom, it’s quite possible no one would miss him for days or weeks.

  11. Aimee March 30, 2009 / 4:06 pm

    THAT’S the one I was thinking about! Poor batty old guy.

  12. Anthony March 30, 2009 / 4:40 pm

    “Poor batty old guy” indeed! Love the expression. Particularly because, at some of my residences, the living quarters were not unkempt but the garages—different story! I think I’ll start posting here under the nickname “Poor Batty Old Guy,” LOL. There but for the grace of God….

  13. Aimee April 1, 2009 / 2:17 pm

    Read a story in the AP today about a lady in South Carolina who was dead 18 months before her and her dog’s bodies were found when the house was sold for taxes. Very small town, the kind where they say they know everybody, but nobody thought to check on her, even though they “now that I think about it” remember that it was a long time since they saw her or saw her car moved. From what the story said, she was pretty reclusive: her husband, who died young about 25 years ago, had been a prison guard and they were afraid of former inmates tracking them down. So the house was always very locked up and they didn’t socialize, and she was found with a .357 under her pillow.

  14. Anthony April 1, 2009 / 8:56 pm

    The best “dead body in house undiscovered by the townfolk for a long period of time” short story is, of course, William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily”: “When Miss Emily Grierson died…” the townspeople discover the skeletal corpse of Homer Barron in her residence. That explained the smell they’d noticed, years before.

  15. Aimee April 1, 2009 / 10:18 pm

    That happens sometimes too: somebody dies, and for whatever reason, usually related to their SS checks/pensions and/or mental problems of the living, they get kept in the house for months or years.You’d have to have some kind of mental problem to be able to live with the smell.

  16. Anthony April 2, 2009 / 7:16 pm

    The Collyers are pretty much sui generis in the Strangely Poignant Poor Batty Old Guys Who Disappear Amongst the Rubble in Their Own Homes, and Then Are Not Found for a Time” sweepstakes—all others are merely pale copies.

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