Daily Mail 3rd August 2010
A disabled woman may have been left to starve to death after her mother, who cared for her full time, died suddenly in her bed.
The bodies of Stephanie Wolf, 56,and her daughter, 29, were discovered in their home after going unnoticed for several weeks.
The pair, who were known to adult care services, had refused the help of social workers, it was revealed today.
Tragedy: The house in Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire, where a mother and daughter were found dead
Police are investigating whether Mrs Wolf, who was found in her bed, died suddenly, leaving her paralysed daughter unable to care for herself or raise the alarm.
It is thought the bodies had been in the three-bedroom property for a number of weeks and had partially decomposed before they were found on Saturday.
The alarm was raised by a man delivering leaflets who noticed flies swarming around the letterbox.
Mrs Wolf devoted herself to caring for her daughter, who was found just yards from her mother's body.
Police are also investigating whether she may have killed her daughter before taking her own life.
She was last seen by neighbours six weeks ago and was said to have become increasingly reclusive and burdened by responsibility for her daughter, who was paralysed from the neck down.
One neighbour yesterday said that Mrs Wolf had been 'very depressed' for the past year and was often seen 'snapping' at people in the streets around her home in Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire.
Neighbours said that her daughter, who has not been named, rarely left the house although Mrs Wolf did have a specially adapted van to transport her.
The woman, who has asked not to be named, said police had told her that she was the last person to see Mrs Wolf, when the pair chatted outside the chemist's in the village.
Stephanie Wolf had not been seen by Wheathampstead locals for several weeks
She said: 'The police told me that when they found Stephanie she was dead in her bed while her daughter was lying on the floor next to her wheelchair in a special room which had been made for her at the side of the house.
'It seems they had been there for quite some time before the police found their bodies. Stephanie gave her life to caring for her daughter.
'She almost wore it as a burden that her daughter was disabled.
She felt she was responsible. She seemed very agitated when I last saw her.
'I tried to offer her some help with taking her daughter out of the back of their van but she said 'no'.
'The only other thing she said to me was, 'I wish people would stop coming into my home when they're not invited', but I did not know exactly what she meant by that.'
The woman said Mrs Wolf had refused help from social services to look after her daughter and was on medication.
Another neighbour said that three years ago, Mrs Wolf put a large sign on the roof of the bungalow reading 'help', and was sometimes seen washing her daughter in a paddling pool in the garden.
But another local resident said he believed that she had died and her daughter then starved to death. The man, 50, who did not want to be named, added: 'They were devoted to each other and I don't think her daughter could cope when she lost her mum.'
It is understood that the mother and daughter lived at the house alone for the last 20 years, when a man believed to be the younger woman's father moved out.
Police were not treating the deaths as suspicious and were waiting the outcome of a post mortem examination, which was expected today.
A spokesman for Hertfordshire Constabulary said it appeared nobody else was involved, but that inquiries were continuing.
He added: 'The bodies were found inside the property and may have been there for some considerable time.'
An initial post- mortem examination showed neither woman had suffered external injuries.
Police said there were no suspicious circumstances.
Hertfordshire County Council said it was now looking into the case.
A spokesman said: 'The situation at the moment is that they were known to adult care services but they refused the offer of our services.'
A source at the council said social services still had a duty to care for families who needed help, even if they refused it.
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