Bodies found in Hertfordshire

Neighbours speak of quiet, private family

A mother found dead at her home with her disabled daughter's body close by had repeatedly turned down offers of help from social workers.

Even so Stephanie Wolf had once put up a giant banner on the roof of her home with the words "HELP" emblazened across.

Neighbours said the 56 year old mother had pinned a single sheet on the tiled roof of her village bungalow home with the word in giant red letters. There was speculation that the mother could have been taken had been taken ill last month (July) and her wheelchair bound daughter had starved to death.

The mother was last seen at the beginning of July in the village high street.

On Saturday the mother and daughter were found dead in their home in Wheathampstead, Herts.

Neighbours said the incident involving the banner had occured around two years ago.

But it emerged that the mother had repeatedly turned down offers of help from Hertfordshire County Council's Adult care Services.

Following an assessment of the needs of the mother and daughter which was carried out in 1998 equipment like ramps and rails had been installed at their home.

Offers of help and support were made by social workers but declined

There was another assessment carried out four years ago and the offer of a day placement service for Samantha but that was also declined by the mother.

As police probed the tragic deaths of the mother and daughter, one neighbour said:  "It was bizarre when the banner went up and I don't know if police or social services looked into it. The trouble was Stephanie was a very private person, who could be very dismissive and unapproachable if you tried to talk to her."

Stephanie Wolf and her daughter Samantha, thought to be in her early 30's, were found dead on Saturday by police officers who had forced their way into the semi detached timber built bungalow called "Swiss Cottage" in Marford Road, Wheathampstead.

Neighbours reported that they had not seen the mother and her disabled daughter for a number of weeks and the police attended.

Barbara Duffield, who lives a few doors away from the couple's home, said "I last saw Stephanie at the village chemist shop at the beginning of July. From what I understand now I may have been one of the last people to see her When I think back to that last meeting she was a bit strange because when I said 'Hello, how are you?' she said 'I am ok, but I am getting fed up with people coming into my home uninvited'."

Mrs Duffield said "I didn't know whether she meant people like door to door salesman or what."

Stephanie, believed to have been born in Switzerland, had lived with her disabled daughter Samantha in the bungalow for more than 20 years.

Neighbour Kerrie  Goodwin, 18, a university student, said "The mother loved to garden and always kept the front immaculate. I would see her sometimes cutting the lawn or trimming the hedge and the daughter would be in her wheelchair watching. They were a very private pair and kept themselves to themselves. Everyone in the street says hi to everyone and if we had known they were in trouble or had problems, we could have helped. It wasn't unusual not to see them for a few weeks a a time."

Hertfordshire Police said they were not treating the deaths as suspicious.

Post mortems carried out on Monday had found no signs of any violence and forensic tests are still being carried out.

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