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British woman’s ‘largely skeletal’ remains found in flat after three years, but cause of death unknown

On January 26, 2006, Joyce Carol Vincent was found in her London flat, skeletonised, after being dead for more than two years with the television still running,” reads a post on the Nigerian Facebook page HistoryVille.

“She had died in December 2003 of, apparently, an asthma attack while watching the television.”

The post includes two photos, one a portrait of a woman, the second what seems to be the mummified remains of a person sitting upright in an armchair in front of a TV.

The message and photos have been shared in several other Facebook posts. Together, they have been viewed more than a million times – but flagged as possibly false by Facebook’s fact-checking system.

Did a woman named Joyce Carol Vincent die of an asthma attack in a London flat in December 2003, with her “skeletonised” remains found only in January 2006? And what do the photos show? We checked.

Joyce Carol Vincent

A Google reverse image search reveals that the first photo is of Joyce Carol Vincent, 38, whose badly decomposed body was discovered about three years after her death some time in 2003.

Her story is covered in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, in an October 2011 article headlined: “Joyce Carol Vincent: How could this young woman lie dead and undiscovered for almost three years?” 

The article reads: “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.”

But Vincent’s remains, reported to be “largely skeletal”, were too decomposed for the cause of death to be determined. She was known to have suffered asthma, but also had a peptic ulcer. An inquest into her death returned an open verdict, with the cause of death “unascertained”.

Africa Check could find no evidence that the second photo is of Vincent’s remains. She was found lying on a sofa, not sitting upright in an armchair. The photo has also been used to make similar claims about other people. Motunrayo Joel


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