Mystery of the old woman that nobody missed
They found her in the water - an older lady in a paisley purple blouse, dark blue pants and no shoes.
She had short grey hair and her pockets were empty of identification. There was nothing to tell them where she belonged.
Three days after a resident from a Southport high rise building spotted a woman's body in the Nerang River, police still have no idea who she is.
The unidentified caucasian woman - thought to be aged between 75 and 80 - was discovered in the Southport waterway, in the shadows of the four-deck Sundale Bridge, on Thursday morning.
While Southport has a noticeable homeless population, police are looking at whether she was an elderly woman that lived alone.
Police have spent the hours since knocking on doors and combing missing persons reports for clues as to who she might be - to no avail.
Even a public media appeal, including the release of a photograph of the paisley pattern on her button-up shirt - has not helped.
"We don't know who she is," Southeastern regional crime co-ordinator Detective Superintendent Brendan Smith said.
"If she is an elderly person, living alone, sometimes it might take a few days before somebody notices they are missing.
"We are hoping someone will be able to shed some light on it."
He said her death is not being investigated as suspicious, but police don't know how she came to be in the water.
Police have appealed for residents of Southport to check in on their elderly neighbours or relatives - especially those living alone.
Southport Senior Citizens Association president Peta Gray said this year had been a lonely and isolating time for seniors communities.
"It's mind-boggling to think that someone can go missing and no-one's missed her," she said of the woman in the river.
Ms Gray said her club had reopened for limited COVID-safe activities in early August and members had been enthusiastic about reconnecting with friends.
"They're all back wanting to have that connection and get out of the house," Ms Gray said.
"It's not as bad as what it was but it's still difficult."
While police hope they will discover the woman's identity in the coming days, in some cases they are never able to determine who a body belongs to.
In 2017, the Queensland Police Service catalogued 21 sets of human remains that they'd been unable to identify.
They include a man who was found dead next to Poona Dam on the Sunshine Coast in 2008. New DNA technology was recently used to provide more accurate details on what the man looked like.
In another case, a man's left foot washed up on an island in Gladstone Harbour in 2003. No other remains were found.
In 2007, a man's torso washed up on Warana beach, on the Sunshine Coast.
And an infant found in 1985 in Townsville has never been identified.
Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000.
Readers seeking support can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.
Originally published as Heartbreaking mystery of the old woman that nobody missed