On Tuesday, Harris County Coroner’s Office identified the remains of Mary Stewart Cerruti, the 61-year-old woman who was reported missing mysteriously since 2015. It has now been confirmed she never left her Houston Heights home.
Authorities now believe it is likely Cerruti fell through her attic floor and became wedged in the walls.
“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.’
Cerruti’s remains were discovered more than a year when the home went into foreclosure.
The bones, recovered in March 2017 by new homeowners, were fragmented but the majority of the skeleton was recovered, including the skull, the medical examiner said in press release obtained on Wednesday. Also found were degraded clothing, athletic shoes, and a pair of eyeglasses.
Before she vanished, Cerruti opposed 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.
Another identifier was Cerruti’s missing tooth, which she had restored prior to her disappearance. The press release stated that there was a relatively new crown on the right maxillary canine of the skull found.
In summer 2015, Cerruti’s neighbors became concerned when they noticed the mail piled up in front of her house that had a broken window .
“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.
Adding, “There were a couple hundred pairs of eyes on her house at all times, and anybody could look down and see that she was alone, she was elderly, she was frail and she was vulnerable, flat-out vulnerable.”