PETALUMA, Calif. (KRON) — A Petaluma woman has been identified after her death went unreported for over a year and her daughter lived at home with her mother’s corpse.
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s coroner identified the deceased woman on Friday afternoon as 80-year-old Birgit Almgren.
The coroner has still not determined Almgren’s official cause of death. The Petaluma Police Department is conducting a “suspicious death” investigation to find out if there was any foul play or neglect of care.
Her daughter told police that Almgren died of natural causes in April of 2021 at their two-story house on Windsor Drive. The daughter initially did not answer the door when concerned neighbors and police officers knocked on multiple occasions.
Police officers found Almgren’s body on August 23 after officers forced their way into the house by breaking down the front door. The corpse was in the living room and the daughter was in a bedroom, according to police.
The daughter told officers that she never left the house for more than two years.
“Based on statements made, detectives believe she has not left the house, other than to go to the mailbox, since the beginning of March of 2020. All her living essentials were ordered online and having them delivered to the home. This included daily meal deliveries,” Petaluma Police Department Lt. Jeremy Walsh told KRON4.
PPD officers were first alerted to check on the home’s residents by a concerned neighbor who noticed 20-30 packages stacked up on the porch.
Detectives will determine if the daughter committed a crime, such negligence as a sole care provider. Police will retrace the daughter’s “actions or inactions which could have contributed to her deterioration and ultimate death,” Walsh said.
The daughter’s self-isolation began in March of 2020, the same month when the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the Sonoma County Health Officer to order residents to “stay at home” and shelter in place.
Investigators did not say if the pandemic was a motivating factor behind why the daughter never left home for two and a half years. Police have not released the daughter’s name, but said she is middle-aged.
Detectives will also look into financial records to see if any benefits entitled to the mother were being collected and inappropriately used before or after her death, Walsh said.
A man who lives next door told KRON4 that he and his family never saw the mother or daughter since he moved into the neighborhood three years ago. The neighbor said delivery packages frequently piled up by the front door. Another neighbor was in disbelief that police were not called to conduct a welfare check sooner.
A City Code Enforcement Officer red-tagged the home, deeming it uninhabitable.