The Sad Yet Intriguing Story of Londoner -- Joyce Carol Vincent

Jan 17, 2012, 01:15 PM, London, London Borough of Haringey, United Kingdom

BLISS: This is the sad and yet intriguing story of Londoner Joyce Carol Vincent… In January 2006, with thousands of pounds in rent past due, a Metropolitan Housing Trust officer arrived at a small North London flat with a locksmith in tow.

Ambient sound…

BLISS: They drilled the lock and entered the flat to find a large pile of unopened mail just behind the door some of it postmarked as early as November 2003. The heat and electricity were still on and the television was playing… Unfortunately… a little further into this one room bedsit… in front of the TV and surrounded by Christmas presents still in the process of being wrapped… lay the body… now the almost skeletal remains… of a woman dead apparently for a little over two years. There had been no missing persons report… and although she had a family including several sisters… and maybe even a former finance… no one was searching for Joyce Vincent or seemingly worried about her. Why had it taken so long for anyone to find her? Why wasn’t anyone alarmed by what must have been her sudden disappearance?
Even when her neighbor, Michael Dobbs, noticed something odd he never reported it… saying later: “I did notice a kind of rotten smell but the bins downstairs are strong and the stairwells smell with junkies.” During the Coroner’s inquiry a pathologist told the court that the body was so badly decomposed that dental records had to be used to identify it… and that, as a result, it was impossible to determine an actual cause of death. Meanwhile, detectives told the court there wasn’t any evidence of foul play… at least not that they could find. At the time, Detective Inspector Michael Ainslie of the Metropolitan Police said… “This is a real tragedy and a very upsetting case”.

Cut from… “Undone” by Alice Temple from her album “Be With You In A Minute” as featured in the film.

BLISS: But major London newspapers… The Times, The Sun, The Telegraph along with the BBC covered the story and they suggest… that Joyce was not elderly or infirmed but rather an attractive and relatively young, 38 year old woman who, at one point, may have even worked for a major advertising agency. They go on to suggest however that Ms. Vincent may have also been the victim of domestic violence and may have been in her flat with assistance from social services for battered women.
In any case… there wasn’t a lot to go on at that time and the case was finally recorded as an “open” verdict… and the news cycle moved on.

BLISS: But… if we leave it here, we’ve only learned a part of the story… Carol Morley… a London based documentary filmmaker had followed the news coverage on Joyce Vincent as well and came to a conclusion that her life should not pass without more notice… or more answers to her mystery… so she began an all out effort to find anyone who may have known Joyce…

MORLEY: I knew that I didn’t want somebody to become just an anonymous headline anybody’s life deserves more than a kind of grim headline I think so that was the starting point but of course as a filmmaker and finding stuff out about her she became you know I mean I was obsessed…

BLISS: Morley advertised throughout London… in Newspapers and by posting flyers even by advertising on the sides of London cabs in an attempt to locate anyone who may have known Joyce Vincent.

MORLEY: My responsibility is to in the end to bring an audience a story that can be told in the most compelling way possible and I think with this story it was really important to have the real testimonies but also it was really important to bring Joyce to life and so for me it was about the testimonies and I kind of linked to the real in the fact that Joyce really did exist and this isn’t made up and this isn’t you know a work of fiction but on the other hand film is so beautiful at you know creating feeling and emotion.

BLISS: Morley’s efforts were successful and she was ultimately able to identify and interview a numbe... #documentary #film #London