The remains of a Spanish man have been found lying in the corridor of his terraced house in the north-western village of Canizal some 20 years after he died. Police looking for clues to the date of Vicente Benito’s death point to the fact that the only coins and banknotes they could find in the house were denominated in pesetas, suggesting he had died well before the euro was introduced in 2002. In fact nobody had seen Benito for almost two decades, though none of his neighbours in the village of 520 people thought there was anything peculiar about him failing to answer his doorbell for so long. They long ago gave up ringing on it, assuming he had moved to neighbouring Portugal. There were rumours he had found a girlfriend, or was working as a shepherd in some other part of the world. A few people remember being angry that he had left a dog tied to the metal bars across a window that gave straight on to the street, but that was a decade or two ago. The dog was eventually cut loose and taken in by a neighbour, but no one tried to find out if Benito was ill in bed or somehow unable to get of his tiny house. “We think he was last seen at least 15 years ago, but no one is sure,” the mayor, Miguel Angel Herrero, explained. Earlier this week, however, a nephew who lived in the village decided to break into his uncle’s house.” They say he wanted to see what had happened to his uncle,” a neighbour told the local La Opinión de Zamora newspaper. “I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep for at least a week,” the young man reportedly said. Benito would be 73 were he still alive, so would have been in his mid-50s when he died. “He had stopped talking to his siblings and went to work as a shepherd. He was always off somewhere, so it didn’t occur to people that he might still be in the village,” said Herrero. His ex-wife, who had gone to live with someone else, formally reported him missing in 1992. She had since remarried and moved to the nearby village of Olmo de la Guareña.Villagers were unable to explain why, given that Benito was slowly doing up his house and had left a six-inch gap at the bottom of his front door, nobody had noticed a strange smell. Herrero suggested a nearby pigsty had blocked it out. “These days there a lot of solitary souls in our villages,” commented La Opinión de Zamora columnist Celedonia Pérez. Local police were rumoured to have found a lottery ticket from Spain’s ONCE organisation for the blind dating back to the early 1990s. “They should check his bank account, that should show when he last took out money,” a neighbour, María Victoria Barros suggested.