Elderly woman found dead in trash-filled home

July 20, 2010 (SKOKIE Ill.)

The building department Tuesday afternoon posted a sign saying that the house is not approved for occupancy and that entry is not allowed.

The woman's daughter discovered the body, and when they arrived, they found her sitting on top of several feet of debris.

"The officers that were on the scene and responded reported that it was some of the worst conditions that they had been exposed to in at least 29 years," said Sgt. Michael Krupnik of the Skokie Police.

Police say the debris inside Marie Davis' Skokie home was so bad that officers responding to her daughter's call for help last night could not get to the 79-year-old woman. Instead, the fire department was called in to punch a hole in the roof to remove the deceased woman's body.

"Debris-filled; unable to gain access," said Krupnik. "Unable to even enter through a doorway without crawling through small tunnels. "

The medical examiner says Davis died of natural causes, yet it is not her death, but the way she and her daughter lived, that attracted attention Tuesday.

"Every night... they [were] walking around the neighborhood," said neighbor Jairo Nieto.

It was at night that Davis would collect trash from other people's homes and take it back to her own. Although some say they knew she was a hoarder and had filed complaints about the outside of the home with the village, none imagined the conditions within.

"We have worked with this family over a number of years and we've been called out a few times in the past," said Dr. Catherine Counard of the Skokie Health Department.

The health department will seek a court order Wednesday to go inside the home and inspect it.

"I noticed sometimes when I'd walk the dog through the alley that her backyard was cluttered," said neighbor Joan Morris. "But I figured, OK, that is her backyard, that's her business, not mine."

"About a year ago, Skokie sent somebody to clean the garage," said Nieto. "They [took] two trucks full of garbage from the garage."

The Skokie Health Department has confirmed they do have a long history of complaints regarding this house. As for the future of the house, they would like to clean it out and rehab it, but it may come down to having to tear it down, a decision that could be made Monday.

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