Woman Who Lived Under Neighbor’s Corpse For Two Years Reveals How Maggots Infested Her Home

A woman who lived unknowingly in a flat below her the neighbour’s dead body for two and a half years has revealed how maggots were infesting her house.

Chantel – not her real name – said the larvae took over her flat after Sheila Seleoane, who lived on the floor above in Peckham, South London, died in August 2019 and was not found until February 2022.

The 58-year-old medical secretary Skeletal remains were found when police kicked in her door after years of complaints from residents, they say were not followed up by landlord Peabody Housing.

Neighbors had complained of a “death smell,” and Chantel revealed that piles of maggots fell from the ceiling when she changed her lightbulb.

Residents of Lord’s Court were horrified after police found Sheila’s body and are now considering suing Peabody for damages.

The remains of Sheila Seleoane (pictured) were found in February 2022, two and a half years after she was last seen alive

The remains of Sheila Seleoane (pictured) were found in February 2022, two and a half years after she was last seen alive

Neighbors in Lord's Court, Peckham (pictured), say they complained several times to housing association Peabody Housing about a foul smell emanating from her flat, but 'no one came'

Neighbors in Lord’s Court, Peckham (pictured), say they complained several times to housing association Peabody Housing about a foul smell emanating from her flat, but ‘no one came’

They say they have tried to raise the alarm about Sheila several times and have contacted the housing association with complaints about the stench.

Lyesha, who lived on the same floor, told them BBC “no one came” from Peabody, despite her complaints to them that “there’s a smell of death.”

Another neighbor kept a written record of when they first called the landlord to complain – October 10, 2019 – two months after she was presumed dead and more than two years before she would eventually be found.

Only one family member attended her funeral — her estranged half-brother who hadn’t had contact with her in years — and a Peabody representative.

Months earlier, even though she was dead, Sheila’s neighbors still sensed her presence.

As the weeks and months went by, they couldn’t sleep because of the stench emanating from her flat.

Chantel said the experience was like “living in a horror movie” and was shocked to see the maggots fall from the ceiling when she changed her lightbulb.

‘I have them in the bedroom, the living room and the bathroom. And pretty much all over my furniture,” she told the BBC.

“You sat down on the couch and after a while you found a flattened maggot.”

She added that when she complained, she was told that Peabody’s pest control “doesn’t deal with maggots.”

Donatus Okeke told the BBC his family tried to put towels and sheets under the door to keep out the stench, but nothing helped.

‘We couldn’t even sleep in the flat. You couldn’t even eat because it was a really, really bad smell,” he said.

Her mail started to become overcrowded and when cleaners moved her doormat to vacuum the carpet outside her flat, it was never returned to its original place.

Her inquest last year revealed messages between residents wondering, “Is she dead?” as early as June 2020.

Flowers left at Sheila's door by a benefactor after police discovered her skeletal remains in February 2022

Flowers left at Sheila’s door by a benefactor after police discovered her skeletal remains in February 2022

Ms Seleoane had not been seen since August 14, 2019, when she spoke to her GP to arrange an appointment for the following day, which she did not attend.

Her bank records indicate that her last “active” transaction was that month, after she paid her rent to the Peabody Trust via debit card.

A timeline of the tragic end of ‘forgotten woman’ Sheila Seleoane’s life – and how she was abandoned by the police and her housing association

Early 2019: Sheila Seleoane visits her GP complaining of breathing problems including ‘wheezing’ and shortness of breath. She makes a follow-up appointment, but does not come.

April 2019: Mrs. Seleoane is seen by members of Peabody Housing for the last time. She lets them into her third-floor apartment for a routine gas inspection.

August 2019: Mrs. Seleoane makes her final payment to Peabody Housing. Authorities believe it is around this time that Mrs. Seleoane dies.

October 2019: Neighbors report a foul stench emanating from Mrs. Seleoane’s property.

March 2020: After Mrs. Seleoane falls behind on her rent, Peabody’s applies to the government to have her rent paid directly from her Universal Credit – the application is accepted.

June 2020: Officials try to enter the flat for a routine inspection, but receive no response from Mrs Seleoane. Her gas supply has been cut off.

October 2020: FFollowing persistent complaints about a stench emanating from Mrs Seleoane’s property, the police make two visits. Peabody claims officers told them she was safe and sound.

February 2022: After more complaints from neighbors about the smell and the sound of banging windows from Mrs. Seleoane’s property, the police enter. They find Mrs. Seleoane’s skeletal remains on the couch.

When her bank account ran out of money and no rent was paid, Peabody applied for Universal Credit in her name and had it paid directly to them.

Her April 2020 gas safety check couldn’t be completed because contractors couldn’t get into her flat – instead of sending someone to visit, Peabody cut off her gas supply.

When the housing association finally sent someone after complaints from residents about a year after her death, they asked the police to check her out.

But when officers knocked on her door, they decided there wasn’t enough justification to bring it down. This, followed by an error by a police officer falsely saying she had been seen alive, meant it took more than a year for police to find her body.

The Met told the BBC that had that operator not retired they would have been referred for an investigation.

Neighbors told the publication they wish they hadn’t trusted Peabody and gone straight to the police instead.

One of them said, “That’s the only thing I regret – that I believed Peabody.” I regret not calling the police sooner, because I just trusted that they would do something.’

In a statement to the BBC, Peabody said it “wrote and called repeatedly without acknowledging that this wasn’t enough.”

It added: ‘We have new ways of working to put people and their wellbeing at the center of our activities.

“Part of this is a culture change that takes time, and we know full well that our service is not as good as it should be. But we are determined to live our values, learn our lessons and continuously improve for the benefit of residents.”

The inquest heard that Sheila’s body was so decomposed by the time it was found that it was impossible to determine her cause of death, with the coroner leaving it open.

During her inquest, Ash Fox, Peabody’s deputy director, said an independent investigation into why Seleoane’s body had gone undiscovered for more than two years led to 37 recommendations for how they treat their tenants.

“It’s clear from the research that processes have been followed successfully, but perhaps there would have been an opportunity to connect the dots sooner and raise more alarm,” she said.

The housing manager said one of the recommendations was to contact all of their tenants who have not been spoken to in a year.

Employees also watch for changes in regular behavior, such as not paying rent.

She said that so far only nine people renting houses from the housing group have not been addressed, while 25 others have recently had their gas supply cut off.

Ms Ash said it is now up to the Peabody to apply the ‘human touch’ as ​​a social landlord.

She wiped away tears when the coroner asked her what effect the death had on the staff. “Everyone is devastated,” she said. “We recognize that more could have been done.”

The Peabody housing group sent a letter to all tenants on the block apologizing for the “missed opportunity” in Ms. Seleoane’s body that went undiscovered for two and a half years.

In an apology following the inquest, Peabody CEO Ian McDermott said, “We didn’t ask the fundamental question: Is Sheila okay?”

“We have apologized to the family. We are very sorry about what happened.

‘However, I think the greatest apology goes to the residents of Lord’s Court. They did tell us something was wrong.’