Melanie Panayiotou was found dead in her London home on the third anniversary of her brother's death

By Maria Pasquini and Phil Boucher
December 27, 2019 11:25 AM
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Credit: Pip-Landmark Media/Landmark Media/Newscom via ZUMA

Exactly three years after George Michael‘s death on Christmas Day 2016, his sister Melanie Panayiotou was found dead in her London home.

“Police were called by London Ambulance Service at approximately 19:35hrs on Wednesday, 25 December to reports of the sudden death of a woman, aged in her 50s,” the Metropolitan Police told PEOPLE in a statement.

According to the Evening Standard, Melanie, 55, was found at her home by older sister Yioda Panayiotou.

Although a cause of death has yet to be announced police said that “the death is not being treated as suspicious by police,” and noted that a “report will be compiled for the Coroner into the circumstances.”

Panayiotou’s death was also confirmed by her family.

“We can confirm that very tragically Melanie has passed away suddenly,” her family said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. “We would simply ask that the family’s privacy be respected at this very sad time. There will be no further comment.”

Melanie Panayiotou

Michael was 53 years old when he died on Christmas Day in 2016.

In March 2017, the coroner revealed that the singer died of natural causes and suffered a dilated cardiomyopathy with myocarditis and fatty liver.

Just days before her death, Melanie and her sister Yioda, as well as the singer’s father Jack and longtime manager David Austin, thanked fans for their support as the three-year anniversary of the singer’s death approached.

In a statement shared to his official website on Monday, the family said they’d “come to fully appreciate (although we already knew really), quite how much love there is out there in the world, for both Yog [which is Michael’s nickname] and his beautiful music” in the years since his death in 2016.

Michael’s relatives then went on to thank fans for embracing the recent film Last Christmas, which was named after one of Michael’s biggest hits and is based on his music.

“Thank you for embracing and supporting the ‘Last Christmas’ movie and soundtrack, we knew you would enjoy it!! ‘This Is How’ is good, isn’t it?? We love that you love it, as would Yog.”

George Michael
| Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

In addition, Michael’s relatives wrote that they will be “swerving the bad and enjoying the good” as much as they can in the New Year, adding “2019 has been difficult and busy for George’s hardworking team.”

“We are, as usual, staying as positive as possible, which is what we and Yog would wish for you all, and we are all hoping for a peaceful 2020. (Wow 2020! – when you grew up with Yog, that used to seem so far away but, here we are folks – It’s the future)!!!” they wrote. “We’ll close by saying, don’t forget to say your ‘I Love You’s’ and enjoy your celebrations wherever you are. Thank you so much for your kind messages, they lift us when things are tough.”

Michael’s Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley paid tribute to Melanie on Friday, writing, “Utterly tragic news of Mel Panayiotou’s passing. My thoughts are with her sister and father at this desperately sad time.”