On January 25, 2006, a 38-year-old woman named Joyce Carol Vincent was found deceased in her London flat after being dead for almost three years. Her remains were skeletonized and the television in the room was still on, tuned to BBC1.
In 2001, Joyce resigned from her job and moved into a shelter for victims of domestic abuse. Around this time, she also started to reduce contact with friends and family.
It is believed that Joyce died in her bedsit around December 2003 from either an asthma attack or complications from a recent peptic ulcer. Neither her family, co-workers, nor neighbors noticed her death.
A Sad Story Behind The Death Of Joyce Carol Vincent
It was almost fourteen years ago that officials from a London housing association stumbled upon the skeleton of a 38-year-old woman while repossessing a bachelor flat due to unpaid rent. The woman had been deceased for almost three years at the time of the discovery.
The TV was still on and there were unopened Christmas presents on the floor when authorities found the woman's apartment. The kitchen sink was filled with dirty dishes and there was a pile of mail behind the front door. The expiration dates on the food in the fridge showed that it was from 2003. The woman was identified as Joyce Carol Vincent, but no one had noticed her absence for three years. Who was she and why had no one noticed she was gone?
Joyce Vincent was born in Hammersmith on October 19, 1965, and grew up in the area near Fulham Palace Road. Her parents, Lawrence and Lyris, were immigrants from Grenada. Lawrence was of African descent and worked as a carpenter, while Lyris was of Indian descent. Joyce was of Dougla heritage, meaning she had both African and Indian ancestry.
Joyce's mother passed away when she was eleven years old, following a surgical procedure. Her four older sisters took charge of her upbringing after their mother's death. Joyce had a difficult relationship with her emotionally distant father, whom she said had died in 2001 (though he actually passed away in 2004, unaware that Joyce had already died). She attended Melcombe Primary School and Fulham Gilliatt School for Girls, but left school at the age of sixteen without any qualifications.
Vincent started working as a secretary at OCL in the City of London in 1985. After that, she worked at C.Itoh and Law Debenture before joining Ernst & Young. She spent four years in the treasury department of Ernst & Young, but resigned in March 2001 for unknown reasons.
A Refuge For Victims Of Domestic Violence
According to some reports, Joyce was engaged at some point and had lived in a refuge for victims of domestic violence in Haringey before moving to the bedsit. She also reportedly worked as a cleaner in a budget hotel for a while.
The MP for Joyce's constituency, who had known her before, wrote to the local council, the utility companies, and the housing association about Joyce's unpaid bills, wondering why there were no earlier warnings. However, either no reply was received or little information was provided.
Martin Lister, one of Joyce's close friends, shared details about her personal life. They had a good relationship while they were dating for three years. Lister said, "She never drank much and she never took drugs, but the thing that most surprised him, he said, was that she ended up in social housing."
"We were always doing something," Martin remembered, "racing at Goodwood, tennis at Wimbledon, classical music, opera. We liked the restaurants too. She always wanted to improve her mind."
Martin showed the first photograph of Joyce he had seen and said that people used to tell her she resembled Whitney Houston.
He went on, "Her hair came from her Indian mother's side who died when she was 11. She had four sisters who brought her up. I don't understand. She worked her way up, had really good jobs. She earned excellent money."
A friend who had shared a home with Joyce for a while said, in sorrow, that he believed it was a burden for her to be both beautiful and highly intelligent. He said that the problem with Joyce was that wherever she went and whatever she did, people would try to sleep with her.
A Fiancé Who Wished To Remain Anonymous
During this time, Joyce was engaged to someone for two years, but this person wishes to remain anonymous.
Her colleagues were surprised when she decided to leave her job in 2001. There were conflicting stories about what she planned to do after quitting. Some people were told that she was going to travel, while others were told that she had been recruited by another company. The only information available about what happened to her between leaving the firm and her death is that she spent some time in a refuge for victims of domestic violence.
Guys Would Come On So Heavy And Not Let Go
Joyce was an attractive and humorous individual who was down-to-earth and had a great passion for singing. In fact, she possessed an extraordinary singing voice.
Catherine Clarke and Joyce became close friends while Catherine was renting a room in Kirk's house in the late 1980s. Catherine is now living in Florida, where she remembers that Joyce only had one other close female friend.
Catherine said, "Mostly it was men. Men who had crushes on her, men who followed her – there was always a story about a guy that had the hots for her. It was just unbelievable how intense guys would get with her. Guys would come on so heavy and not let go. I can only think she became isolated from her family because of a guy that she chose. Maybe she was ashamed of the situation she got herself into. To go into a women's refuge, for Joyce, would have been a big thing."
In Popular Culture
Vincent's life and death were the subject of the 2011 docudrama film Dreams of a Life. The film and Vincent's life also inspired the album Hand. Cannot. Erase. by musician Steven Wilson, as well as the band Miss Vincent and their first single, titled "No One Knew." In 2017, a poem about Vincent was included in the collection I Know Why the Gay Man Dances by poet Joel Sadler-Puckering. The poem uses details about Vincent that were shared in the Dreams of a Life documentary.