A Connecticut woman was found dead in the basement of a home packed with clutter in Cheshire on Saturday, her body buried beneath a first floor that collapsed under the weight of it all, police said.
Officers responded to 22 Winslow Road in Cheshire on Thursday to check on Beverly Mitchell, 66, after a postman reported mail was piling up, but they were not actually able to get into the house until Saturday.
A neighbor, who described Mitchell as a "hoarder to the extreme" who rarely left home, said trash was packed from the floor to the ceiling insider the home.
“She saved newspapers, she saved every piece of paper,” Mary Stopkoski said. “I think she just kind of packed herself right in there without realizing that this was what she was doing.”
The structural damage to the first floor was so significant that emergency responders couldn't enter the home safely until Saturday morning.
Once they were able to get inside, police found Mitchell's body in the basement of the home she'd lived in for decades. She had apparently been living in the basement.
"The third day they located her, and I guess she was in there for a pretty long time," Ryan O'Connor, a neighbor said.
The first floor had given way and Mitchell's body was found buried in the rubble, according to neighbors.
Emergency crews had to tear open a wall and use an excavator to sift through all the trash, according to people in the neighborhood.
Stopkoski said she hadn’t seen Mitchell in a month. Other neighbors didn’t even know Mitchell was still living in the home.
The small neighborhood is still in shock, but many said there wasn't much more that could have been done.
"Nobody was going to force her out of her house no matter what you did," said Stopkoski. "My only hope is she didn't suffer in there."
Mitchell's remains were taken to the state medical examiner's office for an autopsy. The cause of death is unknown, but police said there are no signs of foul play.
The home is considered a hazmat situation, according to police.
The town is working with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to clean up the property and secure the scene.
Authorities expect to demolish the home, but have not announced when that will happen.
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First published June 16 2014, 6:22 AM