Documentary About A Woman Who Wasn't Found Until 3 Years After Her Death Will Haunt You


If you were to die at home tonight, how long would it be before someone found you?

I’m willing to bet my boss would be the first person to raise alarm bells if I was missing for more than six hours with no explanation. And even if everyone here at The Hook mysteriously forgot about me – one of my housemates would certainly burst into my room to check on me if they hadn’t seen me in a while. Not to mention my mother, who assumes I’m dead if her texts go unanswered for longer than ten minutes.

Joyce Vincent, 38, was left to rot in her armchair for three years before she was eventually found by council officials, after her unpaid bills could be ignored no longer. She was found surrounded by partly wrapped Christmas presents for friends who clearly never raised the alarm when she went missing.

She was found in 2006, with the food in her fridge dating back to 2003, and her television still on. Her remains had rotted so much that she had to be identified by comparing the teeth of the remains with a photo of her smiling in a holiday photo. Her body was too decomposed to formally distinguish a cause of death, but the police concluded she died from natural causes.

Film maker Carol Morley stumbled onto the woman’s story when she picked up an abandoned copy of the Sun on the London underground, and felt drawn to the mysterious woman. There was no photo included in the piece, but the shocking story of loneliness captured the attention of the nation, and Carol – so she decided to make a film about the woman.


First, she needed to know more about Joyce. Who was she? Why was she so alone? None of the press about her mysterious case included any photos or personal details, so Carol posted adverts in papers and on the side of London cabs, asking anyone who knew her to come forward.

She contacted a whole host of people to enquire about Joyce, and after months of searching eventually stumbled across an ex-boyfriend and began piecing Joyce’s life together.

The descriptions of Joyce given by the people in her life were awestruck and held great affection for her. According to a former boyfriend and her friends, she was a bright, attractive young woman who was never short of friends and adventures. Admired by many men, and successful in many ways, the mystery of her death became even greater during Carol’s mission to uncover the truth.

It was revealed that she had once gone for dinner with Stevie Wonder, and had been friends with American soul singer Betty Wright. She had shaken the hand of Nelson Mandela, always seemed to have her pick of men and never appeared to be lonely. She had four sisters, and a whole host of friends – so how on earth did her death go unnoticed for so long?

As Morley’s documentary unravels, the story of Joyce’s death becomes even more gripping and leaves you wondering how on earth such a woman came to such an end.

Check out the trailer: 

Dreams of a Life is available to watch on Channel 4 or Netflix.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments!

Images: Dogwoof

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