Hoarding is a bit of a modern-day prognosis. In a world filled with so much stuff, some people simply don’t want to throw any of it away. To be a hoarder is to have an addiction, and like most addictions, if not treated carefully can cause some serious harm.
There is a stark difference between being a collector and a hoarder; one is for the joy and emotional attachment of an object, while the latter is stemmed by illness and fear. About 19 million Americans suffer from hoarding, but few are as bad as the poor victims in these stories which unfortunately turned fatal.
6. Rita Wolfensohn
A mother’s love knows no bounds, but the story of Rita Wofensohn is utterly creepy as it is sad. Now there is hoarding trash, but how about hoarding the corpse of your dead son for over 20 years? As the story goes Rita unknowingly lived with the rotting body of her son Louis for two decades. But how on earth does somebody not notice the smell?
One glance at the Wofensohn home and it’s obvious that the place smells as bad as it looks. The abode was not only littered with trash but rotting food as well. Police speculate that it was completely possible that Rita had not known that her son had died all that time.
In fact, Rita, who is legally blind, had just assumed that her son had moved out and simply forgot to call. The crazy discovery wasn’t made until Rita had to go to the hospital and a relative was left with checking on the house. Past the mountain of trash on the second floor, the relative discovered full skeletal remains in socks, jeans, and a shirt lying on a thin mattress on the floor.
By then, the body had been so fully decomposed that it no longer had an odor.
5. Homer and Langley Collyer
Homer and Langely Collyer have to be the most famous hoarders in history. The two brothers were affluent millionaires with highly eccentric and bizarre tastes, and lived together in a large Manhattan filled to the ceiling with junk. Afraid that they would be the target of thieves, they bobby-trapped the entire home with deadly trip-wires and counterweights laden with junk.
Langely also took care of Homer who was blind and was determined to help him regain his sight by feeding him 100 oranges a day; for some reason he believed this would cure his blindness.
In 1947, the police department received a tip of a rancid smell coming from the Collyer house. Unable to enter the guarded home, police broke down the door.
After five hours of digging, the police discovered Homer slumped over in an alcove, dead of starvation. But there were no signs of Langely. Police wondered if Langely had skipped town, but when he failed to attend Homer’s funeral, they suspected that he was most likely dead in the home too.
When police took a second look they discovered Langely’s body no more than 10 feet away from the site of his brother’s death. Langely was found in a two-foot wide tunnel, crushed to death by one of his own traps. Langely was killed delivering food to his brother who then later starved to death.
When all was said and done, authorities removed over 140 tons of junk from the Collyer home, including an x-ray machine, a piano, and even a Ford Model-T that Langley had converted to run electricity.
4. Denis Walsby
Denis Walsby was a reclusive pensioner and known hoarder who lived in Southhampton, England. Though he never left his house, the alarm was raised when the mailman noticed the postage stacking up in Walsby’s mailbox. Police entered his home to discover his body under a mountain of trash stacked to the ceiling.
Bizarrely, the man was found nestled like a hamster in a nest of trash on the floor. Forensic analysis ascertained that Walsby had died eight months prior, but his body was so far decomposed that they were unable to confirm his exact cause of death. Like many other hoarders, victims often die by their own design. It took police four hours just to reach Waslby’s body for recovery.
3. Dean Verboven
Dean Verboven was a hoarder from Greenwich, Connecticut who preferred death to giving up his stash of things– well maybe not intentionally. Verboven lived with his 69-year-old mother, Barabara and were known as “sweet people” by their neighbors, but behind closed doors there were years of trash and clutter threatening their lives.
When tasked by social services to clear his home, Verboven did the one thing he believed was his only choice; he set the whole home ablaze. Verboven would rather die than give up his home or property. Though Verboven perished in the fire, his elderly mother was saved by firefighters but suffered from severe burns.
2. Bruce Roberts
Hoarding is one thing, and so is murder, but how about killing somebody and then hoarding their body? Well, that is the length of strange that Sydney resident Bruce Roberts went when an intruder entered his home. The victim, Shane Snellman, had been missing for years without a trace. And it probably would’ve stayed that way if not for Roberts’ own demise.
Police were called to the residence for a wellness check when Roberts failed to make any of his usual errands and his mail stacked up. Officers discovered Roberts’ body charred in half. He had apparently died and fell on a running heater which accelerated decomposition. But here’s when the story gets even creepier.
After Roberts’ body was removed cleaners discovered another corpse doused with over 70 bottles of air freshener tucked into a room. The mummified body belonged to the intruder, Shane Snellman who had been missing since 2002. Which means…Roberts had been living with the body of a stranger for over 15 years. Investigators posited that Snellman had entered Roberts’ home and was then shot to death several times before Roberts stowed the body.
1. Jennifer Kirk
Rounding off the list has to be the saddest story yet. Out of all the hoarders in this roundup, only one, Jennifer Kirk, called out for help. This episode took place in New Zealand where emergency services received a call early in the morning from the Kirk residence. Her speech was garbled and hard to hear but paramedics rushed to the house around 4:48 am. It would be the start of an hours-long struggle.
Unable to get through the door, paramedics called firemen to gain access. But once inside they were met with impenetrable walls of trash. Firemen described the scene as “maze-like” and were unable to even see the floor, while some areas of the home looked like they hadn’t been touched in years. Being weak and elderly, Kirk was unable to call out effectively, so emergency workers combed the entire house for her.
By the time they made it to Kirk the paramedics were too late, she had already passed away.