Friday, July 13, 2012

ISDP July, 2012: Non-nosey Neighbors Edition

I Smell Dead People came to life, so to speak, on a Friday the 13th. We have posted our obsessively curated collection of dismal decay on the same date ever since. The fact that today is another F. the thirt. brings an Uncle Fester-like smile to our fat face. And this being an unusually hot summer, the July edition is brimming with morbid stories, each of which begins with a sniff of “foul odor” and ends with a call to the coroner’s office.

Our strict editorial standards at ISDP require that the deceased person in question be discovered initially by smell. Thus if little Bobby Doe hasn’t heard from his Aunt Agatha in a week and asks the local police to check in on her, the game is up—even if the investigating officer detects the strong odor of decay upon approaching Aunt Agatha’s front door. So this story from The Manhatan (Kansas) Mercury is a close call. According to the headline—“Police, fire department called in for smell”—we are talking ISDP. And the lede looks good too:
Riley County officers and the Manhattan Fire Department, including a Hazmat crew, responded to 1025 Humboldt St. Wednesday for a neighbor’s report of a bad smell, which apparently resulted from an earlier unattended death at the address.
But it’s followed by this:
Lt. Josh Kyle said officers found the body of Catherine Post, 64, in her Humboldt Street residence on June 5, after police were notified by post office workers that Post had not been picking up her mail, a former daily habit.
Kudos to the civic-minded folks at the post office, but their call robs the MFD Hazmat crew of an ISDP nod.

Last month’s report about the body found in a black Cadillac Escalade in West Hollywood grows more strange and more Hollywood. The victim has been identified as Steven John Simmons, age 33. Now Los Angeles police detectives are searching for his brother.
It was unclear why Simmons was in West Hollywood, but he may have been visiting his stepbrother, Jacob Anthonisen, who lives in West Hollywood and ran the posh nightclub and art gallery “The Peanut Gallery,” which attracted celebrities such as Lindsay Lohan last month, according to Anthonisen’s Twitter feed.
Today’s edition delivers three Norman Bates Award™ Nominees. First up are a pair of sisters who live in Pittsburgh: “Two adult sisters found living with mother’s decomposing body after neighbours complain of foul smell.” According to the UK’s Daily Mail, both daughters are mentally disabled in some way. One of them made a fuss and had to be taken from the residence in restraints. More from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
“The stench ... was overwhelming,” [McKees Rocks police Chief Robert] Cifrulak said. 
Her daughter, who authorities say is developmentally disabled, told officers that her mother was OK and that the two watched a movie on Tuesday. The late woman had another daughter, also developmentally disabled, who lived in the home. Both “talked as if their mother was still alive,” Cifrulak said. 
[A neighbor] said he had noticed the smell for the last two weeks or so but thought it was trash. According to the medical examiner, the mother had been dead for “at least four days, but likely much longer.”
Say Aunt Agatha, what’s that smell? And where is Uncle Fred? Our anonymous second Norman Bates Award™ Nominee comes from L.A., specifically from the unincorporated town of Rowland Heights which is off the Pomona Freeway a few miles east of the 605.
Coroner’s officials haven’t identified yet the elderly man whose body was found in his Rowland Heights home where it has been for about eight months. Ed Winter, assistant chief of operations and investigations for the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner, said the autopsy could be completed as early as Wednesday, but that the body was “severely decomposed,” making an identification more difficult. [...] A family friend or relative visited and smelled a foul odor, according to Lt. Eddie Hernandez of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau. Hernandez said the man’s wife told the visitor he died and was in the bathroom. Authorities found the body in the downstairs bathroom, the lieutenant added. He said the couple lived by themselves in the 2-story house and that the man’s body had been there for eight months. “No neighbors called to report a foul odor,” Hernandez said.
Eight months! The widow could be a contender.

Cathy Locke of the Sacramento Bee reports this particularly depressing case:
The Placer County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the death of an infant whose body was found Thursday afternoon along a street in an undeveloped subdivision in Newcastle. A woman was walking on Green Hills Court about 4:55 p.m. when she reported to a deputy who happened to be in the area that she had seen a trash bag off the side of the road and that it had a foul odor. The deputy checked the bag and found the body, which was described as that of an infant, according to a Sheriff’s Department news release.
My Old Kentucky Home, Part Deux

From Karla Ward at the Lexington Herald-Leader: “Simpsonville couple found dead in apartment had not been seen for weeks.”
The bodies of a Simpsonville couple were found in their apartment on Friday, and authorities believe they had been dead for at least a month. A tenant of the fourplex where David and Donna McGee lived on Maplewood Drive had complained to the landlord about a foul odor, said Jeff Ivers, Shelby County chief deputy coroner. The landlord entered the apartment and found the body of David McGee, 53, in the living room, then went outside and called police at about 3:40 p.m. The body of Donna McGee, 52, was found in the bathroom. The husband and wife both had medical problems, and foul play is not suspected
From Texas: “Deceased homeless man found in Central Laredo neighborhood.”
Police say construction workers at a nearby project called officers when they noticed a foul odor around 11 Thursday morning near Urbahn and Guadalupe. They told police a homeless man who frequently asked for money or food had not been seen in a few days and feared he had died.
This story from New York got a lot of play:
A 7-year-old boy and two adults who had been shot to death were discovered by officers on Tuesday inside a Brooklyn apartment in what detectives are investigating as possibly a murder-suicide, a police spokesman said. 
The officers answered a call around midnight of a “foul odor” emanating from a second-floor apartment at 749 Lafayette Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant. 
After gaining entry two hours later, they found the bodies of a woman, a man and the boy. The three victims were each shot once in the head, the police said, adding that a firearm was found at the scene.
The victims were a 51-year-old woman, her grandson, and her 44-year-old ex-con boyfriend. Strangely, the timing of the 911 call about “foul odor” varies from one account to the next. This from FOX:
Police said they received a 911 call at about 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday of a foul odor coming from Apartment 2A.
And this from the WSJ:
Neighbors smelled a foul odor emanating from apartment 2A at 749 Lafayette Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant around 11:50 p.m. Monday and called 911, police said.
Back to Southern California for an item by John Asbury at the Press-Enterprise:
Riverside County homicide detectives are investigating the cause of human remains found in a canal Sunday afternoon, July 1. Residents reported a foul odor from the canal at 1:40 p.m. in the 3300 block of La Rue Street in Jurupa Valley, sheriff’s officials said.
And then back East for a case in Connecticut:
Watertown police are currently investigating a double homicide in the Oakville section of the town. According to police, neighbors of the home on 347 Falls Avenue noticed a foul odor coming from the home earlier in the day. After neighbors began investigating the smell on their own, they called the police. Police went into the home and found a man and a woman’s body with blood on the ground.
The victims were a 58-year-old woman and her 26-year-old son. According to the medical examiner, both died of multiple stab wounds. The Falls Avenue house was already a bit notorious:
Neighbors also told News 8 that it was “like a Jerry Springer show” at that house, with yelling, fights and the police being called. However, the house has been unusually quiet since last weekend.
Meanwhile, arrest warrants have been obtained:
Police said they are now looking to speak with Claude A. Turner, 36, and Elizabeth Swiderski, 26, both of Watertown, who police said had possession of the [victims’s] car before the two people they spoke with on Sunday night [who were found sitting in the car].
The investigation continues to focus on Turern and Swiderski.

There is no dignity in an ISDP death:
Half-Naked Woman’s Body Found A body was found around 7 p.m. Sunday after a woman smelled a foul odor coming from outside her window. Authorities report that the body of a female was found in the 600 block of Carrol on the south side of San Antonio. The victim was discovered without clothes on half her body. Investigators believe that she was either dragged or dumped in the area.
Sounds like IDing the victim won’t be difficult.
The woman had a tattoo on her chest, another on her lower back, and one on her left wrist, police said. She also had two piercings on each side of her face.
And indeed, it wasn’t:
The Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office has now confirmed what a grieving family has known all along—a woman’s body found on the Southwest Side is that of 27-year-old Jennifer Gonzales. ( . . . ) Relatives identified Gonzales through tattoos.
Long-time readers know that neighbors sometimes (not unreasonably) rationalize the telltale foul odor as garbage, kitty litter, or backed up plumbing . . . anything other than what it really is. In this case, from KPTV Fox-12 in Portland, Oregon, the bad smell of neglected cats delayed the discovery of a murder victim.
A woman found dead in an apartment on Southeast Belmont Street was the victim of a homicide, police have learned. ( . . . ) Police were called to Southeast 14th and Belmont at 2 p.m. Tuesday. Officers don’t know how long the body had been there. Neighbors said they noticed a foul odor coming from the complex over the last week, but they just assumed it was because of someone’s pet. 
“My boyfriend was on the second floor a few nights ago and said something smelled really bad,” said tenant Jennifer Gill. “He talked to a detective today who said it was definitely the body that he was smelling.” 
FOX12 obtained an e-mail sent to tenants Wednesday afternoon, from Star Metro Properties Inc. 
It says the company received a complaint about a foul smell coming from the apartment on Saturday, but a worker didn’t check it out until working hours Monday. 
According to the e-mail that worker entered the apartment, and didn’t find the victim. Instead, finding cats without food, and feces and urine throughout the apartment. 
Monday night another call was made to the management company, but it wasn’t until Tuesday, a worker re-entered the unit, finding the body and called police. 
“That’s a horrible thing, and someone needs to be held responsible for the murder, but also for the fact she was left there so long,” said resident Mattie Sleeth. “It’s not right, and the family shouldn’t have to think about that. 
Portland police said the woman is in her 30s, and they’re still working with the medical examiner to determine her identity. 
As we say here at ISDP, if it smells like someone died you’re probably right. Always trust your nose!

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