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. From the food editor: Five things I'm enjoying in the food world right now

    Cooking

    Sometimes your notebook is scribbled with little thoughts here and there, things you come across in the food world and want to share but aren't sure how or when. Well, folks, I need to get some of this off my chest. Here is a somewhat random collection of culinary things I am really enjoying right now:

    Espresso Sea Salt Cookie Sandwiches with a cooked buttercream frosting, from St. Petersburg home bakery Wandering Whisk Bakeshop. Photo by Jennifer Jacobs.
  2. In Syria's Raqqa, IS makes last stand at city's stadium

    World

    BEIRUT — U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led forces battling the Islamic State group in Syria captured the city hospital in Raqqa on Tuesday, leaving IS militants holed up at the local stadium, their last stand in the fight over what was once the extremists' de facto capital.

    This frame grab from video released Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017 and provided by Furat FM, a Syrian Kurdish activist-run media group, shows Syrian Islamic State group fighters who surrendered entering a base of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in Raqqa, Syria. A spokesman for the SDF in Syria says it will be in control of the northern city of Raqqa "within a few days" after attacking the last pocket held by the Islamic State group. SDF fighters launched an operation to retake the last IS-held pocket of Raqqa after some 275 militants and their family members surrendered. [Furat FM via AP]
  3. Florida education news: Constitution changes, #HB7069, school security and more

    Blogs

    NEW RULES: Once every 20 years, Florida convenes a commission to examine whether the state constitution needs amending. Education — Article IX — can play a pivotal role, and this time around the subject appears to be coming into focus for possible change. Members of the public already have

  4. Forecast: Sporadic showers across Tampa Bay as heat is kept in check

    Weather

    Sporadic showers and storms swept through Tampa Bay early Tuesday morning, dropping over an inch of rain in some areas.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  5. Ophelia batters UK after pummeling Ireland, leaves 3 dead

    Hurricanes

    LONDON — Storm Ophelia is battering Scotland and Northern England after leaving three people dead and hundreds of thousands without power in Ireland.

    A woman stands as waves crash against the sea wall at Penzanze, Cornwall southwestern England, as the remnants of  Hurricane Ophelia begins to hit parts of Britain and Ireland. Ireland's meteorological service is predicting wind gusts of 120 kph to 150 kph (75 mph to 93 mph), sparking fears of travel chaos. Some flights have been cancelled, and aviation officials are warning travelers to check the latest information before going to the airport Monday. [Ben Birchall | PA via AP]