PONTIAC, Mich. — Sometime before she is believed to have died, Pia Farrenkopf asked her mail carrier not to drop mail off at the home, saying she often traveled for work and did most of her correspondence online.
"There was a long-standing agreement with her carrier that her mail should be returned," said Ed Moore, spokesman for the Detroit district of the U.S. Postal Service.
With no mail stacking up at Farrenkopf's home on Savanna Drive where she lived alone, a neighbor mowing the lawn, bills automatically being paid from a bank account and neighbors thinking she moved or was traveling, there was nothing to raise suspicions that the garage of the ranch house for years held a secret — mummified remains, believed to be Farrenkopf.
"All these things kind of led to the perfect storm of no one saying, 'What's going on there?' " Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said.
And Monday, a new mystery emerged about the woman thought to have died in 2008.
Voting records in Oakland County show Farrenkopf, who has not been positively identified by the Medical Examiner's Office, is shown as voting in the November 2010 gubernatorial election.
Pontiac city records indicate Farrenkopf registered to vote in 2006 and had not voted until 2010, but officials point out that could have been an administrative error and she may not have actually cast a vote.
The city clerk, who was not in that job in 2010, said infrequent voters tend to vote in presidential elections, like 2008, over gubernatorial elections like the one in 2010.
"Everything to date points toward late 2008," Bouchard said of the woman's death. "This information, obviously, has to be run to its logical conclusion."
The Sheriff's Office has not released the name of the person who lived in the home. But records show the house was owned by Farrenkopf.
Investigators are trying to find dental records that can be used to identify the body discovered Wednesday in the backseat of a Jeep parked in the attached garage.
The body was found by a contractor sent by the bank after her home went into foreclosure when $54,000 in her bank account ran out.
There was no trauma to her body, according to an autopsy, and no note left behind, but it's still too early to say how she died, officials said.
Investigators are continuing to try to piece together what happened and when.
They know Farrenkopf, who would be 49, last worked at a contracted job in September 2008 and got a traffic ticket for no proof of insurance Oct. 15, 2008, in Pontiac.
They also have talked to engineers to see whether any clues or data can be obtained from the Jeep, which still had gas in the tank.
"The key was in the ignition. The ignition was not on," Bouchard said. "The key was partially out."
Farrenkopf has family on the East Coast, but she and the sister investigators have been communicating with weren't close.
State records show that Farrenkopf had lived at the home since 1999. Her Michigan driver's license was issued in July of that year.