Hoarder found dead under 4 feet of debris inside Spring Branch-area townhome

Jessica Willey Image
Saturday, December 9, 2023
Body of hoarder removed from Shadow Pines Townhomes on Witte Road about 2 months after his death, Texas EquuSearch says
"It is super sad. Nobody is here to claim him or check up on him." Neighbors said the man in his 70s hadn't been seen in months, and hazmat suits were required to enter the home on Friday.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The clutter was so dense in a northwest Houston townhome that Houston police called on Texas EquuSearch on Friday to locate a man's body.

The homeowner said to be in his mid-70s had not been seen in months.

"A cadaver dog found the badly decomposed body under about four feet of debris," Tim Miller, founder of Texas EquuSearch, said.

"You think you've seen everything, and then you realize you haven't," Miller told ABC13.

Hazmat suits, gloves, and masks were all must-haves to enter the townhome on Witte Road in the Spring Branch area. There was nowhere to walk.

"I don't understand how anyone could live in those conditions," Neil Zimmerman, a neighbor and board member of the homeowner's association at the Shadow Pines Townhomes, said.

Residents told ABC13 that they were aware of the hoarding issue. It had developed over the years and they tried to help the man up until a state agency wanted to exterminate what he called his pet rats.

The odor was just too much to ignore. Luis Miranda, another HOA board member, was tasked with checking it out.

"When I knocked, as soon as I opened the screen, I could smell the foul odor," Miranda said.

Houston police and fire crews responded. Rats greeted them at the back of the townhome. Health and safety concerns delayed digging through the debris to uncover the man's body.

"I didn't think we would get all the boxes out of the way. They just caved in on him," Miller said.

Board members said the HOA will likely have to foot the pricey hazmat bill to clear out and clean the townhome. They wished they could have helped the man sooner.

"It is super sad. Nobody is here to claim him or check up on him," Miranda said. "I feel like we did what we could, but we just had nowhere else to go. We tried the city. We just couldn't get help for him."

The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences removed the body from the scene. A cause of death will be determined.

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