South Asian Insider
Tragedy of Missing Mary
(News Agencies) Police have released heartbreaking images of the remains of a woman who got stuck in the wall space of her home - and wasn't identified for three years. Harris County Coroner's Office identified the remains of 61-year-old Mary Stewart Cerruti in January after carrying out extensive forensic tests on bones found in the property. She vanished in 2015 - and her whereabouts remained a mystery until recently. Investigators believe she got wedged in the wall space after falling through a loose board in her attic.
In May 2017, the tenants who moved into her home, after it had foreclosed, found bone fragments. But it wasn't until Wednesday, the majority of her skeleton was recovered, including her skull.
Degraded clothing, sneakers, and a pair of glasses were also found. Pictures taken during the search show investigators holding the rat-infested skeleton being retrieved from the tiny space behind a bathroom wall where she came to rest. Before her tragic death, she lived a secluded life and hung tapestries on the window to maintain privacy.
Her closest living relatives were cousins - making it hard to get a DNA match.
'In the attic, there was a broken board that led down to the space. Law enforcement thinks she may have been up in the attic and fell through the attic floor,' Tricia Bentley, spokesperson for the medical examiner, told PEOPLE. 'It is a one story home with an attic so she was found on the first floor. There was some space between the walls where a person could fit.
'The cause of death is listed as undetermined because the remains were skeletonized. There is no evidence to say how exactly she died.' Police found no signs of trauma or foul play in what bones remained, although a great deal of evidence was victim to decay and animals. Before she vanished, Cerruti was in opposition to new housing developments in the neighborhood, even attending Houston Planning Commission meetings during which she called the developers 'the bad guys.'
Video footage of Cerruti attending a February 2013 meeting showed her wearing a similar style of eyeglasses that matched the ones found with the skeleton.
In summer 2015, the elderly woman's neighbors became concerned after they noticed the mail piled up in front of her house that had a broken window, reported by The Houston Chronicle. The paper also reported that six dead cats were inside. Cages were found in the attic, hints of how Cerruti had taken care of stray cats. She'd taken photos of them when she'd been alive, giving them names like Slim, Sweetie and Little Spot. 'The gap in the boards appears to be maybe eight inches, and Mary was certainly very frail, but it's hard for me to believe that a person could step on a board, and their entire body would go down a crack that is two inches wider than a dollar bill,' Cerruti's neighbor, Roxanne Davis, told local news outlet KHOU.
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