Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg woman's remains found in her home months after her death

ST. PETERSBURG — They finally found 78-year-old Joan Greeley in the bedroom.

No one really knew her, or much about her. Many neighbors had never seen the frail woman with porcelain white skin. She refused to let people in her home.

Which may explain the peculiar circumstances of her discovery:

Head propped up against a wall, legs extended under the bed. Her left arm was draped across her chest and her right arm at her side.

She had been there about four months, her skeleton now mostly exposed.

• • •

Greeley's home of at least 10 years is on the west side of Fourth Street N, just across the street from Sunken Gardens, down an alley and behind a 6-foot wooden fence. It is a small apartment in the back of a one-story block building.

A man who has lived in her building about five years said he saw her, once, but didn't know her name.

Andy Sasala, who lives in a next-door apartment, said for a long time he didn't even know her apartment was there. He thought there were four units, not five.

"She really was as much of a hermit as somebody can be," said Michael Novilla, the managing member of Crescent Lake Apartments, which owns the building. "She really did not want anybody to come inside ever. It's a sad thing for sure."

Neighbors wondered how she supported herself, how she paid the bills, when she shopped for groceries.

And the most obvious question.

Why did it take so long to figure out she died?

• • •

Greeley's building is in foreclosure.

Last week, McKinley Inc, a large apartment management company, took over property management from Crescent Lake Apartments.

On Friday, police said property manager Ronald Toole went out to inspect the units.

Just before 1 p.m., he came to Greeley's apartment at 423 ½ 18th Ave N. He knocked. No response. Key in hand, he opened the door.

A strong smell of death hit him.

He walked into the cluttered apartment and found Greeley on her back in the bedroom, police said.

He left and dialed 911.

• • •

It's unclear exactly how long she lay there unnoticed.

Police think it was likely about four months. They found a newspaper dated June 26 inside her home. They don't suspect any foul play.

Police have not found any family members.

There's no evidence that there was anyone in her life as far back as 1992, said police spokesman Mike Puetz.

Bill Pellan, director of investigations for the Pinellas-Pasco medical examiner's office, said an autopsy has been conducted but the cause of death is still pending.

• • •

Neighbors were saddened by her solitary passing.

"Nobody should have to go that way," said Kathy Seaton, 48. "I wish I would have known."

Les and Sandra Ambush rented out their garage apartment to Greeley about 16 or 17 years ago. They couldn't remember exactly.

"She kept her head down and walked fast and worked hard," Ambush said.

She turned down offers to come and sit and have family dinners except for one Thanksgiving.

"I think she was upset that she didn't have a family or wistful that she lost touch," Ambush said.

They didn't know why she moved out. They lost touch.

"That is sad," Ambush said. "I really feel bad now."

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Reporter Danny Valentine can be reached at (727) 893-8804 or at dvalentine@sptimes.com.

St. Petersburg woman's remains found in her home months after her death 11/11/11 [Last modified: Friday, November 11, 2011 11:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Minors also a training ground for umpires with big-league dreams

    The Heater

    Umpire Tom Fornarola, 23, left, and Taylor Payne, 24, facing, talk before the start of the Gulf Coast League game between the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers at the Tigertown complex in Lakeland, Fla. on Wednesday, July 5, 2017.
  2. In Florida, nation's only lightning center closes after DARPA cuts funding

    Environment

    University of Florida professor Martin Uman usually spends much of this summer at an old Army base about an hour northeast of Gainesville, shooting rockets at thunderclouds, then measuring the bright flashes of lightning that followed.

    Rocket-and-wire triggered lightning at the University of Florida's International Center for Lightning Research and Testing, which recently lost federal funding. A rocket trailing a grounded wire is launched toward an active thunderstorm at the ICLRT. One launch is from a tower, one from ground. When the wire is about as high as the Empire State Building, lightning is induced to strike the top of the wire, much as it strikes tall objects like the ESB. Interestingly, the cloud charge source is about 3 miles high, so a 300 yard-long wire can cause a 3 mile or more long lightning.  After that, there are several normal tortuous strokes ( downward leaders from the cloud charge/upward return strokes) which can be seen as the wind blows the individual strokes to the right. The time between strokes is about 50 thousands of a second. Between some strokes, continuing current can be seen. Continuing current is what generally starts forest fires. [Photo by Dr. Dustin Hill]
  3. Editorial: Reasonable clarity on gambling in Florida

    Editorials

    Gambling expansion strategies — and misfires — are nearly an annual ritual in Florida. There were the eight counties that voted to allow slot machines but were blocked by the Florida Supreme Court. There was the governor's $3 billion deal with the Seminole Tribe in 2015 that was never approved by the …

    Gov. Rick Scott agreed to a much simpler deal with the Seminole Tribe that embraces the status quo instead of expansion. And that’s a good thing.
  4. Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

    Real Estate

    Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

    A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]
  5. Editorial: Hillsborough smartly embraces diversion program for youths

    Editorials

    Children who commit minor crimes can pay for their mistakes for a lifetime — losing a chance to attend college, join the military or obtain credit and a good job. That is unjust to the individuals and a burdensome cost to society, and Hillsborough County is taking the right new approach by giving some juveniles a …

    Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren has announced an agreement between law enforcement agencies and the courts that will allow first-time offenders who commit nonviolent crimes as juveniles to be issued civil citations rather than face an arrest and prosecution.