A year after mummified remains of a woman were found in Pontiac, Michigan, investigators still have no clue as to what caused her death.
Pia Farrenkopf, 44, is believed to have died in 2009 in the backseat of a Jeep Liberty parked in her garage for causes unknown. In addition to the mystery that shrouds her death, even more shocking is the fact that her dead body remained undiscovered in her SUV for five years before a pair of repairmen found her.
Unlike similar discoveries of mummified remains, this one is different as Farrenkopf wasn't living as a recluse. Very much a part of the local community, she was single but had neighbors living nearby, all of whom thought that she was either very busy with her life or had left her home.
One of 10 siblings, none of Farrenkopf's nine brothers or sisters cared to contact her or pay her a visit in the half-decade she laid dead in her car. According to them, she preferred her privacy and would often remain out of touch for years before suddenly coming back.
Talking to the Free Press, Farrenkopf's Boston-based sister Jean LeBlanc said: “Sometimes she would go, literally, for years without us hearing from her. And then all of a sudden, she’d show up, so nobody ever thought anything about it.”
Her body would've gone even longer without being noticed had the $87,199.80 she had in her saving accounts not run out. In January 2014, her mortgage company's inspector came within inches of discovering her body when he looked around the car but never opened it. With Farrenkopf's money gone, her house soon went into foreclosure. The mortgage company this time sent two repairmen to fix the hole on the house's roof when they made the startling discovery.
“It smelled like death,” one of those repairmen, Charles Goff, said during investigation.
Farrenkopf was a chain smoker and a heavy drinker, but medical examiners can't say for certain what led to her death. That's because her organs were so dried out, it was impossible to conduct a conclusive autopsy. Police investigators didn't find any signs of foul play either. They remain just as baffled as her family members who still await a logical cause so they can find closure.
With the world more connected than ever – thanks to technological advancements – it's astonishing that someone would go unnoticed like Farrenkopf for years despite having a large family and living in the middle of a thriving community.