Philip Rothman, a composer in New York City, read online the strange story of Lucie McNulty, whose body lay undiscovered in her Wells home for more than two years after she died. It brought back fuzzy memories of a middle school music teacher he hadn’t thought about in decades.

“I remember her being a strict but enthusiastic teacher who achieved good results,” Rothman said Thursday, adding that he went on to a career in music in large part because of the music program at the Williamsville public schools in suburban Buffalo, New York, where McNulty taught.

Rothman said he and other former students of McNulty discussed her death on social media after the story broke. None of them could believe what had happened to their former band teacher. Rothman spoke about “the unfortunate turn her life took in the years since she taught music to us.”

“It’s a strange feeling … when one hears sad news about someone in the distant past,” he said.

McNulty didn’t leave much of a footprint, online or off. Police and neighbors said she had no family or close friends. She was not married and had no children. Her only relatives appeared to be her parents, both dead. She wasn’t involved in any local social groups or clubs. By all accounts, she rarely left her home, except to drive to the end of her road to check the mail or retrieve packages that arrived regularly. She had no profile on Facebook or other social media and no criminal record.

Wells police confirmed Thursday that they did find a will inside McNulty’s home and were working to locate a couple named as heirs. They would not provide the couple’s names or the name of an attorney who had represented McNulty in the past.

Doug Bibber of Bibber Funeral Home, where McNulty’s body was taken, said Thursday that no one had contacted him about her.

“This is very rare,” he said. “Most people have somebody.”

NEAT, CLEAN HOME, ODD BEHAVIOR

McNulty’s death, particularly the fact that it went unnoticed for so long, raised questions about why no one intervened sooner, but it appears McNulty organized her life to remain solitary on purpose. Her mobile home was one of only a handful of houses on the heavily wooded, dead-end street, and although her neighbors said she was more sociable in the years right after she moved to Maine, she gradually grew more reclusive.

Lois Martin, a neighbor who tried to befriend McNulty early on, said she never saw anyone visit McNulty, even on Christmas.

“We would walk down the road and wonder,” Martin said. The one time she did step inside McNulty’s home, Martin said, she saw several empty liquor bottles. She said other neighbors sometimes noticed McNulty barking back at dogs and standing in her yard in her underwear.

None of her neighbors had ever seen a picture of McNulty. When asked what she looked like, they described her as “heavy,” with a wild mop of red hair that “grew out, not down.”

The state Medical Examiner’s Office said McNulty died of cardiovascular disease. Neighbors were not aware of any health problems, but remembered her being taken to a local hospital by ambulance back in 2013 before returning home at some point. If she were alive, she would be 69.

Wells Detective Joseph Labier said the department would not allow access to the mobile home. He said McNulty didn’t appear to be a hoarder and that everything was neat and clean, but the home was packed with possessions, including furniture in good shape, covered by blankets to keep them free from dust.

“She had more possessions than that house could fit,” he said.

Labier estimated there was twice as much furniture and other possessions as made sense for a home that size. He said there also was evidence that McNulty was a frequent online shopper. Some of those boxes were packed with files, organized alphabetically. Police looked in the files to try to find next of kin, and found the will listed under “W.”

Martin said McNulty was a music teacher in New York before she moved to Maine.

A spokesman for the New York State Teachers Retirement System confirmed that McNulty was receiving a public pension, but could not provide additional information.

NO RELATIVES LOCATED YET

Rothman, the composer, said she was his sixth-grade band teacher in the late 1980s in Williamsville, but he doesn’t know how long she taught there. A representative of the Williamsville public school department didn’t return a call for comment Thursday.

New York property records showed McNulty owned a home on Capen Boulevard in Buffalo from 1985 through 2001. She sold that home to a woman named Sharon Cray, who then sold it in 2007. Cray could not be reached for comment.

Property records in Maine indicate McNulty paid $64,000 for her mobile home on Atkins Lane in Wells in 2000. Her real estate attorney, according to documents, was Richard Hull, who declined to comment Thursday, through his assistant, citing attorney-client privilege.

McNulty last paid property taxes on the mobile home in 2012, according to town officials. Liens were placed on the property in September 2014 and again last September.

The town contacted the police department when it was about to initiate foreclosure proceedings on McNulty’s home. The town hadn’t been able to reach her and asked police if they had any recent contact information. When officers realized there had been prior well-being checks on her with no contact, they decided to return to the mobile home and search more aggressively.

“That kind of morphed this into a missing person thing,” said Labier, the Wells detective.

Because police found no obvious relatives, they contacted Bibber Funeral Home to keep McNulty’s body.

If no family members or legal representatives are located, a probate judge could turn over rights to the funeral home to care for McNulty’s remains. If that happens, Bibber said he’ll plan a service and have her interred at a local cemetery, likely at his own expense.

“Everyone deserves to have a final goodbye and resting place,” he said.


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