HAZEL PARK, Mich. (WJBK) - When police were checking on a home in Hazel Park, they were doing so on a report of hoarding. What they found was a man's mummified body they believe was there for months.
Hazel Park Police called what they found on Milton one of the worst hoarding situations they've ever seen. On Friday, police and city workers were boarding up the home, hours after discovering the body of Donald Smith.
Police say Smith suffered from lung cancer before he died and was found buried under two feet of garbage. According to police, the 61-year-old woman he had been living with continued to stay there, despite his body significantly decomposing.
"She had said he was bed sick, he hadn't been able to move and she would take care of him all day," neighbor Matt Urban said. "I did ask one time if I could see him and she pretty much changed the subject."
Police say Monday the woman showed up to pay the water bill but had a festering wound, with flies on her body. That was the red flag that sent police to visit the home.
What they found was five feet high piles of garbage, feces, and dead cats.
"I was completely shocked to see this. This is really taken aback," Urban said.
Police took the woman, who also has cancer, to the hospital and called in a trauma team to help clean up. Meanwhile, the city removed eight somewhat healthy cats and kittens while still trying to figure out where Smith was.
Police talked with neighbors and some mentioned they hadn't seen Smith since December. Police searched death certificates and VA hospitals and came up with nothing...until Friday.
That's when the disturbing discovery was made. Donald smith was buried under two feet of garbage. The Medical Examiner estimates that he's been there since December.
Neighbors said adult services had been called in February but nothing ever came of it.
"To be honest I had wondered if maybe something like that had gone on. The last time I saw her I noticed somewhat of a strong smell," Urban said.
The woman is now receiving medical and psychiatric help. The surviving cats are being temporarily cared for at the humane society and are awaiting adoption.
Police are trying to find family members of who neighbors knew as "the professor". They say he was a smart man with a big heart.
"He was a really nice guy," Urban said. "What a terrible, terrible way to go."
The home is likely a total loss and now secured.