Police: Hoarder dies when floor collapses

CHESHIRE, Conn. (AP) — A 66-year-old woman described by police as an apparent hoarder was found dead under a pile of debris after the first floor of her Connecticut home collapsed into the basement under the weight of all the clutter, authorities said.

Police in Cheshire identified the woman as Beverly Mitchell. Her body was found in her home Saturday, two days after a postal carrier called police to request a welfare check because her mail had been piling up for at least a week.

Police Sgt. Kevin O’Donnell said officers went to the house Thursday, but didn’t find anyone and thought Mitchell wasn’t home. The first-floor had stacks of clutter to the ceilings along the walls and waist-high piles in other areas, and officials didn’t realize until Friday that the floor had collapsed, O’Donnell said.

After making sure the building was safe to enter, officials cut a hole in the side of the house and began removing debris with a backhoe. Authorities found Mitchell’s body on Saturday afternoon.

Police had been to Mitchell’s house many times over the years responding to requests for welfare checks by neighbors and other people, O’Donnell said. Officers had offered her help from local social service experts, but she refused each time, he said.

“It’s unfortunate because … we’ve tried all along to get her assistance, but she was a very private and solitary lady,” O’Donnell said Sunday.

O’Donnell said officials didn’t realize the extent of the clutter in the home until they went inside on Thursday.

Police were still trying to find relatives of Mitchell on Sunday. A local funeral home has taken possession of her body.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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