Authorities say Dallas homeowner found dead in hoarding conditions

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by MARJORIE OWENS and CARLA WADE

Bio | Email | Follow: @CarlaNWade

WFAA

Posted on March 27, 2014 at 7:13 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 27 at 9:50 PM

DALLAS  — A 67-year-old man missing since March 15 was found dead inside his home after authorities used search dogs and cut holes in the roof in an attempt to search for the man in a home riddled with "debris," according to Dallas police.

Dallas police went to check the welfare of man living in the lower Greenville area and discovered what appears to be an extreme case of hoarding. The 67-year-old man lived in 6200 block of Martel Avenue and was last seen on March 15th.

Neighbors said friends became concerned about the man, who lived alone, when he did not show up for church. Police said prior to his disappearance, the man told friends he felt ill.

His body was later discovered inside the home, but mountains of debris inside kept rescuers from getting to him for two days.

"Due to the extreme amount of debris in the home, rescue personnel were unable to locate the resident," Cordova said.

Joel Lavender of Dallas Fire-Rescue said some of the debris was stacked as high as twelve feet inside, reaching to the ceiling in some cases. Crews digging through the trash found a dead raccoon and two dead dogs among the debris, as well as gallon milk jugs full of urine because the bathroom was too full of trash to be used.

Firefighters cut holes in the roof so they could crawl into the attic of the home. However, after an exhaustive search through "multiple piles of debris," authorities called in a team with search dogs Thursday.

The dogs were also unable to locate the man and the Dallas City Attorney's Office obtained a warrant and hired a contractor to remove the debris from the home.

The man was found at about 11:57 a.m. Thursday, Dallas police said. They were able to remove the body by 4:45 p.m.

“Yesterday, they started to actually dig and pull things out into the dumpster, and today they found him,”  said neighbor Mary Pat Rodriguez.

She said the man mostly kept to himself.

“My husband and I actually thought the house was abandoned," Rodriguez said. “But his minivan would come and go. So that was really the only indication of life there.”

Rodriguez said there was one thing he could not keep to himself; a problem with hoarding that she said everyone knew about. By Tuesday, it was on display for the entire neighborhood to see as police and crews dressed in protective suits removed trash and items from the house.

“It honestly looks as though if you just didn't throw away anything -- anything at all for, say 20, years,” Rodriguez said.  “That’s what your house would look like inside.”

Homicide detectives are investigating, but the medical examiner has not yet determined the cause of death. The man’s name was not released pending notification of next of kin.

E-mail cwade@wfaa.com

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