An Ohio boy found a body in what he thought was an abandoned home this past Sunday, and with blighted neighborhoods on the rise in Ohio cities like Dayton and Toledo, people may begin to wonder what secrets linger in the empty home next door.
The 12 year old boy entered an overgrown home at 217 Harvine Avenue in Dayton, Ohio and found the body hanging by its neck in a closet. According to CNN, the boy told his mother, Michelle McGrath, that he thought he found a dummy or a mannequin. When she investigated the home, she called the police.
Ken Betz, director for the coroner’s office in Montgomery County, verified that the body was Edward Brunton. The 53 year man had a belt around his neck. Betz ruled the death a suicide, and pronounced the time of death as 2009—five years ago. “I’ve been around a long time, but this is the first time we’ve had (a mummified body) indoors for that many years,” Betz said according to a report in the New York Post. Betz believes Brunton died in the winter of 2009, and since it was cold and dark in the closet, Brunton’s body tissue dried out and mummified.
Brunton had no connections to the world around him. He had no known job. He did not get along with his immediate family. He was homeless for a period of time, before he inherited some cash in 2009 from his deceased mother. Records show he bought the tiny house on Harvine for $10,000. The house contained few furnishings, but personal documents found in the home helped investigators identify the body.
Neighbors did not even realize someone lived in the home. Alberta Ballard, who has lived across the street from the home for 40 years, told reporters, “I didn’t realize there was anybody (living) in the house.” Ballard made numerous complaints about the overgrown yard to the city, but little was done. Michelle McGrath said some neighbors had noticed an odd smell in the area years ago, but they thought “something had crawled and died underneath the shed.” She also thought it was a sad commentary on the community that someone could die in their neighborhood and no one would realize it.
Abandoned homes, like the one in Dayton, have become more and more common in many cities around Ohio. The Blade, a Toledo, Ohio paper, recently wrote a report on abandoned homes in Toledo. The Blade reports that the city’s population went from 383,000 residents in 1970 to 280,000 in 2010, so vacant homes have become the norm in many parts of the city. Unfortunately, vacant buildings invite crime and apathy into neighborhoods. And, in the case of Dayton, Ohio, apathetic neighbors allow people to die in a home and not know it for years.
What do you think? Is this how neighbors treat each other in modern cities? Have people become so apathetic that we let our neighborhoods, neighbors, and homes disappear and deteriorate? Will we die not with a bang but with a whimper? Please comment below.