Tuesday, April 13, 2010

ISDP: Return of the Classics

It may be sunny springtime outdoors, but deep within the macabre and twisted souls of ISDP fans there’s always a strangely alluring dark place brimming over with . . . a foul odor. It’s the thirteenth of the month again. The kids are watching some sick crap on CSI: Miami, the spouse is reading The Lovely Bones, and you—you are about to partake in the guilty pleasure of another installment from the Dark Side of olfaction. 

It was the urban legend of “The Body in the Bed” that led to my first impromptu ISDP research for What the Nose Knows. I found, to my amazement, that dead bodies are routinely found (or hidden) in motel rooms. Although outnumbered here on ISDP by putrid remains discovered in apartment buildings, the motel room scenario remains a classic.

On March 15 in Memphis, Tennessee the body of a missing woman was
found underneath the bed in the motel she had been staying in. The body was discovered after motel guests complained of a bad smell in the room.
Sony Millbrook had been renting the room until she disappeared on January 27. Sometime later the motel management cleared her belongings from the room for lack of payment. Before her body was discovered there six and a half weeks later, the room had been rented five times. The motel refused to let her sister look there herself.

Nor did Memphis police look under the bed.
“In hindsight should an investigator have gone in there and torn the room up? Sure,” said Deputy Chief Joe Scott.
Or just sniffed around a bit, Chief . . .

The Volunteer state came close to racking up a second incident on April 12, when maintenance workers noticed “two unresponsive people and a foul odor in a rental cabin” in Sevier County. According to the demanding rules of ISDP the incident must have been discovered initially and primarily by smell. Unfortunately, peeking through a window at what turns out to have been a murder-suicide (woman and ex-boyfriend) doesn’t cut the mustard. Thanks for playing and better luck next time. 

We don’t usually track ISDP events outside of the United States, but we thought we’d toss a bone to our Canadian readers and share a January 9th story from Edmonton, Alberta where Walter Gladu-Chokopeu pleaded guilty to “unlawfully failing to notify authorities of a body or human remains,” namely those of his late wife. The headline in the Toronto Sun read:
Dead wife left to decompose; Husband was ‘terrified’ of calling police
However The Vancouver Sun captured the flavor better:
Two months living with dead wife’s body: Edmonton man faces court
It’s a long, sad story involving stroke, epilepsy, spousal abuse, medication and a total of 18 beers shared by a couple on the night of October 28, 2009. Gladu-Chokopeu left his wife’s remains in a bedroom for more than two months. According to court testimony, 
police were called after the apartment building caretaker had received complaints about the odour from other tenants and a plumber working there.

(When a plumber complains, you know it smells bad.)

Also in mid-March, police in Staten Island, New York found the body of a 33-year-old woman in her bed. Officers “were responding to a report of a foul odor coming from the residence.” According to the landlord, “he had not seen or heard from the woman in weeks and mail was piled up.”

On April 6th, cops on a call in St. Petersburg, Florida (site later this month of the Association for Chemoreception Sciences annual meeting!) “detected an odor coming from an abandoned home.” They found the decomposing body of a woman in an upstairs apartment. (This story strikes us as extremely suspicious; what cop in his right mind would voluntarily investigate a foul odor in an abandoned building, knowing the high likelihood of getting stuck with a DB for the rest of his shift?) 

Finally, in New Haven, Connecticut in early April a body rolled up in a carpet was found in a trash can behind a house. According to a police, “maintenance workers for the landlord were cleaning up the property and, when one went to the garbage can, noticed that it was extremely heavy and had a foul odor emanating from it.” The body may have been that of a recent resident of the building, which appears to have been run as a half-way house. 

Pssst . . . if the family’s still busy you can spend a few minutes browsing the Interactive ‘I Smell Dead People’ Map. Hundreds of others already have!

Until next time . . .

UPDATE April 14, 2010
In an incident that came to our attention after we posted, the bodies of a couple and their nineteen-year-old daughter were found in an abandoned home in Miami, Florida after neighbors “noticed a foul smell coming from the duplex in the Model City neighborhood.” The family appears to have been squatting in the residence and had not been seen for weeks.


BitterGrace said...

It's unfair to deny my home state a twofer on a mere technicality. At this rate, we'll never catch up with Florida...

Avery Gilbert said...


I assure you I have nothing against Tennessee. I think it would be great if another state gave Florida a run for its money as the I Smell Dead People capital. (Hmmm . . . that would make a catchy license plate slogan, no?) It's just that we're sticklers for data integrity.

And speaking of running up the score, see the update just posted about the Miami family of three.