PETALUMA, Calif. - A welfare check at a home in Petaluma revealed a woman who had been dead in her home for over a year, with her daughter living in the same house with her mother's corpse the entire time, police said.
Officers were called to the 200 block of Windsor Drive about 11 a.m. on Tuesday and saw piles of 20 to 30 packages stacked up on the porch, which KTVU also observed upon visiting the home.
No one answered the door when the officers rang, and having heard concerns from the reporting party, officers decided to enter the house.
Once inside, police saw the dead woman on a couch in the living room.
"The conditions inside the home were unlivable in that it was filled with clutter, trash and boxes from floor to ceiling. Small, almost in passable paths were carved out of the debris and created some challenges for the officers when they went inside the home," said Petaluma Police Lt. eremy Walsh.
Walsh said a short time after discovering the body, officers were shocked to hear a female voice calling out to them from a bedroom. It took some time for them to clear enough debris to get to the woman, who claimed to be the daughter of the dead woman.
Police said it appeared that the mother had been dead for over a year, and the daughter hadn't left the house since the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020. She was having everything delivered, including daily meals.
The daughter cooperated with the police and said her mother had died in April 2021.
The daughter was taken to a local hospital for evaluation, police said.
Due to the unknown circumstances surrounding this death, Petaluma Police Department investigators initiated an unattended death investigation.
A search warrant was obtained and a thorough process of the scene was completed, police said.
Walsh said the Sonoma County Coroner's Office is working to determine cause of death.
Detectives are investigating to figure out why the death was never reported, whether any criminal negligence lies on the daughter as the mother's sole care provider, and whether there were any financial benefits entitled to the mother being inappropriately used.
The home has been "red tagged" due to the uninhabitable condition of the interior of the residence, and the doors have been boarded up.
Police said that there are no outstanding suspects or safety concerns in the neighborhood. It is still an active investigation, and it is too early to determine if any charges will be filed.
The identity of the dead woman is being withheld at this time.