'Woman Sydney forgot' had tumour

Last updated 15:00 06/02/2014
NSW Police

SOLITARY DEATH: The exterior and interior of where Natalie Wood lived.

Natalie Wood
FORGOTTEN: Natalie Wood at the age of 20. Police say the cause of her death "will be forever undetermined" because of the time it took to find her body.

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Natalie Wood, an elderly Sydney woman whose death in her home was undetected for up to eight years, had a brain tumour, an inquest has heard.

The remains of Wood were found by police in July 2011 in the upstairs bedroom of her Surry Hills home in inner Sydney, only metres away from bustling Central Station.

An inquest into her death today heard that Wood, dubbed "the woman Sydney forgot", had revealed to her sister-in-law Enid Davis on January 3, 2003 that she had a brain tumour.

They never spoke again and Davis told police she saw Wood for the last time from a bus window on January 30, 2004.

Detective Senior Constable Andrew Wills told the Glebe Coroners Court that she went to her last medical appointment on December 18, 2003 but missed her next appointment the following February.

Her electricity meter was virtually not used after April 2004 and her last bill was paid from a post office on July 2004.

She also last withdrew A$400 from her Commonwealth Bank in September 2004.

Police estimated that she stopped taking her daily medication in January 2003.

Wills said Wood was a recluse and he was not sure why she had stopped speaking to her family.

"She kept to herself," he told the inquest on today.

"It got to a point she answered the door with a special knock."

Wills also said there was no mattress found in house, which has been estimated to be worth almost A$1 million.

Police found no TV in the house, no fridge and no purse or wallet.

However, rings and other valuables were not touched and there were cobwebs and dust everywhere, Wills said.

Wills said he believed she may have slipped, fallen and not been able to get up again but the long time period made it hard for police to work out what happened.

"It's forensically almost impossible to get something out of."

Davis, who took the witness box on Thursday, said contact ceased between the pair after she broke the news about her cancer to her and her husband in 2003.

Her husband, who was Natalie's brother, told her to "go and get it fixed" referring to the cancer.

"There was no reason (we stopped talking) other than my husband had dementia and got very sick."

Davis said she received a call from the hospital in 2003 with a doctor telling her Wood was sick but denied that a social worker had also called and asked her whether Wood could live with her.

Wood had lived in the premise in 139 Kippax Street since she was born in 1924 but had moved in with Davis and her brother for several years until 1997 when she resumed living in her family home.

Davis told the inquest Wood had few hobbies aside from going into the city, checking out the shops and watching TV.

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However David confirmed she had no TV or fridge in the house.

Two new witnesses have come forward with information after seeing newspaper reports about the case this week.

They are expected to give evidence later on Thursday.

Several distant cousins of Wood were also present in court today with one cousin Allan Matthew telling reporters outside court that the death was "bizarre" and he was shocked when he figured out from newspaper reports in 2011 that she was his cousin.

The inquest continues.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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