On January 25, 2006, a 38-year-old woman named Joyce Carol Vincent was found in her London Flat, skeletonized, after almost three years of being dead. In a corner of the room, the television set was still on, tuned to BBC1.
Joyce had resigned from her job in 2001, and moved into a shelter for victims of domestic abuse. Around the same time, she began to reduce contact with friends and family.
She died in her bedsit around December 2003 with neither family, co-workers, nor neighbours taking notice. The cause of her death believed to be either an asthma attack or complications from a recent peptic ulcer.
A Sad Story Behind The Death Of Joyce Carol Vincent:
It’s been almost fourteen years since officials from a London housing association who were repossessing a bachelor flat because the rent had not been paid, discovered the skeleton of a 38-year-old woman who had been dead for almost three years.
The television was still on and a small pile of unopened Christmas presents lay on the floor. Dishes were stacked in the kitchen sink and a heap of post lay behind the front door. Food in the fridge was marked with 2003 expiry dates.
The woman was Joyce Carol Vincent. But who was she and why had no one noticed her absence in three years?
Early Life Of Joyce Carol Vincent:
Joyce Vincent was born in Hammersmith on 19 October 1965 and raised near Fulham Palace Road. Her parents had emigrated to London from Grenada. She was of Dougla descent. Her father, Lawrence, was a carpenter of African descent and her mother, Lyris, was of Indian descent.
Following an operation, her mother died when Joyce was eleven, and her four older sisters took responsibility for her upbringing. She had a strained relationship with her emotionally distant father, whom she claimed had died in 2001―he actually died in 2004 unaware that Vincent had predeceased him. She attended Melcombe Primary School and Fulham Gilliatt School for Girls, and left school at age sixteen with no qualifications.
In 1985, Vincent began working as a secretary at OCL in the City of London. She then worked at C.Itoh and Law Debenture before joining Ernst & Young. She worked in the treasury department of Ernst & Young for four years, but resigned in March 2001 for unknown reasons.
A Refuge For Victims Of Domestic Violence:
Some reports suggested Joyce was, or had been, engaged and that before living in the bedsit she had been in a refuge in Haringey for victims of domestic violence. For some time, she also worked as a cleaner in a budget hotel.
The MP for Joyce’s constituency, who knew her previously, wrote to the local council, the utility companies, and the housing association about Joyce’s unpaid bills, questioning why alarm bells didn’t ring earlier, but she either received no reply or little insight.
Martin Lister, one of Joyce’s good friends, revealed a lot about her personal life. In the three years, they dated, they had good times together. He 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 reminisced, “racing at Goodwood, tennis at Wimbledon, classical music, opera. We liked restaurants too. She always wanted to improve her mind.”
Showing the first photograph of Joyce he had seen, Martin said people used to say she looked like Whitney Houston.
He added “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.”
Another friend with whom Joyce had shared a home for a while said in grief that he thought it was a burden that she was so beautiful and very clever. He said the trouble with Joyce was that wherever she went and whatever she did, there were people trying to get her into bed.
A Fiancé Who Wished To Remain Anonymous:
It was during this period that Joyce was engaged for two years to someone who wishes to remain anonymous.
Her colleagues were surprised when she decided to quit her job in 2001. There were conflicting stories about what she did when she left. She told some people she was going travelling and others that she had been headhunted. All that is known about what happened to her in the time between her departure from 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 beautiful, funny, down to earth and that she loved to sing and had a fantastic singing voice.
A lady named Catherine Clarke became a good friend of Joyce while renting a room in Kirk’s house in the late 80s. She was now living in Florida, where she recalled that Joyce had only one other close female friend.
“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.” ― said Catherine.
In Popular Culture:
Her life and death were the topic of Dreams of a Life, a 2011 docudrama film. The film and Vincent’s life inspired musician Steven Wilson’s album Hand. Cannot. Erase. as well as the band Miss Vincent’s name and first single, titled No One Knew. In 2017, poet Joel Sadler-Puckering included a poem about Vincent in his collection, I Know Why the Gay Man Dances. The poem uses details about Vincent that were shared in the Dreams of a Life documentary.