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Woman's Dead Body Lies in Flat for 35 Years

Governments have changed. War erupted and ended. Neighbors had children, and then grandchildren. But Hedviga Golik never left her tiny apartment in Croatia's capital — until her mummified body was carried out this week, 35 years after she died.

Police said Friday that no one ever reported Golik missing and no one has come to claim her body.

Residents of her loft building in downtown Zagreb had broken into Golik's flat after deciding that the apartment should belong to them, and not to her. Startled by the remains in bed, they called police.

Forensics experts said Golik likely died in 1973, about the time a neighbor last saw her. Expert Davor Strinovic said she seemed to have died of natural causes, but "it's almost impossible to say for certain" after so much time.

Some of Golik's neighbors claimed she had talked about going abroad.

Experts said her windows had been open, likely diminishing the smell. It remained unclear who — if anyone — was paying her bills and who exactly owned the apartment. In the 1970s, when Golik died, apartments were state-owned.

Neighbors now argue the apartment should be divided among the remaining tenants.

The discovery of Golik's body on Tuesday prompted media debates on how it is possible for a woman to die so long ago without anyone noticing. One local journalist said it showed people were becoming more alienated.

"My dear neighbors! Please keep on being curious and a bit tiresome, as you have been so far," Merita Arslani wrote in the Jutarnji list daily.