Natalie Wood, who lay dead inside her house for eight years,
had a falling out with her family after they refused to care
for her when she was diagnosed with a brain tumour, an
inquest has concluded.
The skeletal remains of the elderly Sydney woman were found
by police in July 2011 in the upstairs bedroom of her Surry
Hills home, only metres away from bustling Central Railway
In his findings into her death, State Coroner Michael Barnes
said that her sister-in-law Enid Davis was mistaken when she
told police that she had last seen Ms Wood in January 2003,
when she had apparently learned of Ms Wood's brain tumour.
"Ms Wood had not been diagnosed with the brain tumour she
told her sister-in-law of until November 2003," Mr Barnes
"In my view it is likely that Ms Wood was aggrieved that her
brother and sister-in-law had not agreed to her being
discharged to their place when the hospital inquired about
"She was also disappointed that for the first time they did
not share Christmas with her that year.
"Although Ms Davis denies it, I expect Ms Wood expressed her
disappointment to them when she saw them soon after Christmas
"I suspect she did it in such a manner that when she then
ceased all further contact, they were not surprised and did
not assume anything untoward had become of her."
Mr Barnes said that Ms Wood had died on an unknown date in
February 2004 after possibly falling in her home and not
being able to summon help.
However, he concluded that the cause and manner of her death
is not ascertainable.
Mr Barnes dismissed the evidence of a neighbour who this week
told police that he had seen a middle-aged woman looking out
the window of the house during the eight years that Ms Wood
was thought to have been lying dead inside.
Ashley Russell Blower, who moved to Kippax Street in 2005,
said the night he moved in he was told by a neighbour that Ms
Wood's brother had said she moved to the country and the
house was vacant.
But Mr Blower said that in the winter of 2007, when he was
outside with his dog, he noticed a woman standing by the
window of the house.
Mr Barnes said Mr Blower was unable to accurately describe
the house and it was unlikely he would have been able to see
her from across the street.
Records show that Ms Wood ceased using her electricity and
water in 2004.
Police found no mattress, TV, fridge, purse or wallet in the
house, which is now estimated to be worth close to $1
A family dispute over her house and cash is believed to be
underway. Ms Wood had lived in the Kippax Street house since
she was born in 1924 but moved in with Ms Davis and her
brother for several years until 1997 when she resumed living
in her family home.
The inquest made no recommendations.
"Human sensibilities are naturally offended by the thought of
an old woman decomposing in her house without anyone
inquiring to ascertain what has become of her," Mr Barnes
"However, platitudinous comments about a need for a more
caring society would achieve nothing."