Hoarders Die in Their Piles of Crap

Making news this week? A hoarder was found death — months after she had croaked — underneath one of her many piles of ‘stuff.’

The sad part? When I went to research the story for this post, I found NUMEROUS other stories about hoarder deaths — at least three this summer alone.

In this newest news-making event, a Las Vegas woman was missing for four months. Her husband tried to ‘find’ her, but despite help from police and scent-sniffing dogs, didn’t see her until feet sticking out from a pile of clutter until it was far, far too late. And how did the clutter cover up the stench of death? I’ve smelled the decomposing body of someone who’s been dead a few days in the summer, and it’s not a smell you’ll ever forget. So how, in the super-toasty summer of Las Vegas, did her husband not smell her?

The Other Cases

On June 22, firefighters ‘rescued’ a woman in Sandy Springs, Ga., who was buried in chest-high junk that she’d probably hoarded for years, but she died shortly after. She was only 38 years old. Technically, she died after she was pulled from the clutter, with the cause of death cited as ‘alcoholic liver disease.’ She also had multiple federal and tax liens against her home. The best part? The firefighters had to go through a ‘decontamination’ process afterward.

Just a month later, on July 20, firefighters in Skokie, Ill., had to cut a hole in the roof of a home to get to the body of a 79-year-old hoarder. It took 3 hours for them to reach the deceased woman, since the clutter was piled so high, it was only 2 feet from the ceiling. How did she get around that home? She died of natural causes from heart disease, but if her daughter hadn’t come over to look for her, she might not have been found for a long, long time.

What makes people hoard stuff? It must take the place of something in their lives — affection, socialization? Part of it is definitely a compulsive disorder. Collecting stuff is a habit, but these people take it too far. I’ve also seen cars stuffed to the gills with garbage, papers and ‘stuff,’ and other people hoard animals and pets. In no case is it considered a healthy obsession.

I don’t consider myself a hoarder, nor a minimalist. I’m somewhere in between, thank goodness.