annals of heartlessness

Annals of Heartlessness (9): The Story of Joyce Vincent

Joyce Vincent

Joyce Vincent


An amazing story:

On 25 January 2006, officials from a north London housing association repossessing a bedsit in Wood Green owing to rent arrears made a grim discovery. Lying on the sofa was the skeleton of a 38-year-old woman who had been dead for almost three years. In a corner of the room the television set was still on, tuned to BBC1, and a small pile of unopened Christmas presents lay on the floor. Washing up was heaped in the kitchen sink and a mountain of post lay behind the front door. Food in the refrigerator was marked with 2003 expiry dates. The dead woman’s body was so badly decomposed it could only be identified by comparing dental records with an old holiday photograph of her smiling. Her name was revealed to be Joyce Carol Vincent. …

[S]he didn’t fit the typical profile of someone who might die and be forgotten: she wasn’t old without family; she wasn’t a loner, or an overdosed drug addict; nor was she an isolated heavy drinker. Who she was and the circumstances of her death were a mystery. …

The coroner recorded an open verdict, with the cause of Joyce’s death “unascertained”. “We don’t know how big a part Joyce played in her own isolation or whether it was more down to society neglecting her”. …

“The point is, Joyce Vincent is dead, no one murdered her, and no one seems to care that much. I gather she was very beautiful, which for reasons totally spurious makes it more poignant because we always think beautiful people have everything go their way.” …

[T]he window in Joyce’s bedsit … had been open for the two years she lay dead, insects crawling along the windowsill, the escaping smell of her decomposing body attributed to the rubbish bins below. …

[N]obody she knew really worried about Joyce when she fell out of touch with them, as she often did – they just thought she was off somewhere having a better life than they were. (source)

She was born the same year as I, 1965. Her story is also the subject of a documentary. Here’s a short clip:

More in the annals of heartlessness here.


2 thoughts on “Annals of Heartlessness (9): The Story of Joyce Vincent

  1. Pingback: Dreams of a Life « Daniel Agnew

  2. Pingback: Dreams of a Life « TheFilmLounge

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