Madonna King: Unmissed Tanya Lee Glover should make us all stop and think

Perhaps Tanya Lee Glover could be the impetus for a rethink of how we connect with others, writes Madonna King.

Perhaps Tanya Lee Glover could be the impetus for a rethink of how we connect with others, writes Madonna King. Photo: Queensland Police

Tanya Lee Glover.

One woman we know hardly anything about, but who should cause us all to stop and think.

Her body was found in the wall of a unit in the Brisbane suburb of Alderley, seven kilometres north-west of the Brisbane CBD, late last year.

That’s tragic in itself. But what should break our collective hearts is the fact that police believe her body might have been hidden inside that wall for years and years and years.

Not days. Not weeks. Years.

Working for a newspaper 20 years ago, I was involved in the coverage of the death of a woman in her Sydney home. Authorities determined she’d been dead for a year, maybe, because of the mountain of delivered daily newspapers and bills and a stacked letter box.

A mess, not curiosity over a neighbour that hadn’t been seen for months, prompted questions.

That story started a national conversation around loneliness, and neighbourly check-ins, and the importance of connection in our communities.

What has happened since? How do we see our role now in checking in on a next door neighbour, or visiting someone who might need to hear the sound of a human voice?

Of course, we don’t know all the details about the death of Tanya Lee Glover.

We know maintenance workers found her remains behind a wall in the lead-up to Christmas.

We know she had been dressed in a T-shirt, wrapped and buried, and the police evidence suggested she had suffered trauma.

A few lines of newsprint. A couple of seconds on the radio news. And the story of Tanya Lee Glover was assigned to history.

How do we explain that this woman, who would now be 52, probably died about 14 years ago, when she was only 38?

Did she not have a family who checked in on her? A single friend who wondered why the birthday cards and Christmas cards stopped, all of a sudden?

What about a church? A book club? A community group? A child? A parent? A school reunion?

Was Tanya Lee Glover hiding from someone? Or wanting to start again?

We know her life wasn’t easy. She was both vision and hearing-impaired. And police believed she died, as a result of a homicide, and that her body had been wedged into the wall at least by November 2015.

Detective Superintendent Andrew Massingham, a regional crime co-ordinator in Brisbane, says her death could have occurred much earlier – as far back as 2009.

So in 14 years, no one has missed Tanya Lee Glover – who police believe moved to Queensland from New South Wales in 2006 – enough to lodge a missing person report.

And yes, there are all sorts of reasons people don’t want to be found, and police outlined them on Thursday: Wanting to be transient, not having a big family or work environment, or even that someone close to her might be responsible for her disappearance.

In the time since this woman has disappeared, COVID-19 has come, and largely subsided. And the world has changed.

Different premiers in every state. Too many different prime ministers. Royal babies and deaths and even a coronation. Osama bin Laden killed. Nelson Mandela dead. MH370, the Malaysian Airlines plane, vanished. Malala Yousafzai won a Nobel Prize. Emojis and a plethora of different social media apps have stolen our conversation.

Same-sex marriage is legalised. And science has won, with a global acknowledgement on climate change.

That list could go on, but perhaps our focus, for even a short period, could be closer to home.

Research this week showed that one in three Australians feel alone. And 27 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds report a social media addiction.

Many of those are studying online, dating online, and working online.

Conversations over the back fence are muted. Homemade scones aren’t brought to the new neighbour up the road like they used to be. When was the last time we called someone – not text – to say ‘hello’?

It might sound old-fashioned, but perhaps Tanya Lee Glover could be the impetus for a rethink of how we connect with others.

She might not have had a single friend in the world. But her legacy could be that we all need to not only have friends but be willing to be friends (or at least care for) those who don’t share our fortune.

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