Beverly Mitchell, an extreme hoarder, died after a floor in her home collapsed under the weight of her accumulated debris and clutter, which was piled to the ceilings. The 66-year-old Cheshire, Conn. resident had multiple individuals reach out to her over the years – including friends, family members and social workers – regarding her compulsive hoarding, but Mitchell rebuffed all attempts at assistance. In the end, she died alone, buried under an accrued heap of household detritus.
“We’ve tried all along to get her assistance, but she was a very private and solitary lady,” Cheshire Police Sgt. Kevin O’Donnell said.
Investigators said the first floor of her small home gave way, collapsing into the basement. Her body was pulled from the debris on Saturday after a postal worker, concerned because he saw her mail piling up, called authorities and asked that a welfare check be made on the address.
O’Donnell said police initially responded last week Thursday, but no one answered when officers called at her home. Police were not able to see into the home; every window was covered with piled up stacks of newspapers and other random rubbish. Officials came back the following day to perform a more thorough inspection, and broke partway into the home. That’s when they realized that the floor had given way.
The incredible amount of accumulation prevented authorities from getting into the home. A construction company was called and a hole in the side of the house had to be made. A backhoe was brought in to remove the mounds of refuse. It was then that Mitchell’s body was discovered. Officials estimated that she had been dead for approximately one week, and it appeared that she was killed after being suffocated by her amassed garbage.
“It appears, at least, that the floor gave way,” O'Donnell said. “All the items that she had collected for many years covered her as the floor sank down into the basement.”
O'Donnell said there did not appear to be any pattern to Mitchell’s accumulations.
“It's just junk,” he said. “She just never threw anything away. Mail, packages, bottles lots of papers, newspapers, magazines, you name it. Piled to the ceiling in most rooms. There was a waist-high layer in the room she had been living in.”
Police said today they are still trying to find and contact relatives of Mitchell.