Body found in trash-filled Worth home

February 15, 2012 8:28:41 PM PST
The decomposed body of an elderly woman was found Tuesday inside her southwest suburban home buried under mounds of trash.

Police were called to the victim's home after she had not been seen in several weeks. After several days of digging, the woman's body was found inside the home in southwest suburban Worth.

The 72-year-old woman, who was known to be a hoarder, was found dead amongst squalor and trash, but the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office announced Wednesday afternoon that Margareta Scheibe apparently died of natural causes.

Scheibe was a widow, a mother, and a parishioner at Our Lady of the Ridge Catholic Church in Chicago Ridge.

"She kept mostly to herself, besides going to church, and a little bit of conversation here and there and she would go to our Adoration Chapel. Occasionally I would see her coming out, spend a few hours with Jesus," said Father Wayne Svida, Our Lady of the Ridge.

One of Scheibe's sons reported her missing Saturday. Police officials said officers searched the home that day but didn't find her. They returned Valentine's Day and found her body.

Some neighbors said Scheibe was pleasant, never a problem.

"She was a very sweet lady," said neighbor Kat Duchowica. "We would see her at McDonald's. She would always sit and talk with you, and even though the house was like this on the outside, you would never suspect that what was going on inside."

Others said there were problems with her property -- and hoarding.

"It was always just nasty, very nasty," said neighbor William Pallardy.

"It was a bad situation," said another neighbor. "She had tarps all over. You could not see inside the house."

The mess seemed to get worse with the death of her husband on Christmas Eve 2010, according to one neighbor.

"I know when her husband passed she started gathering more things, but it was never outside her house," said neighbor Jeffrey Duchowicz.

"That's basically what her focus was. She lost someone she really cared for and loved," said Father Svida.

Scheibe's son Bill said she grew up in Germany during the World War II era. He said she had been hoarding since he was a little boy, buying things in bulk, perhaps thinking there could be another war. Ultimately, Margareta Scheibe was still a mother, a fact her son wanted to emphasize, no matter how she lived her life.

"It was sad the way she lived. It was sad the way she died. And she shouldn't have died this way," said Bill Scheibe. "She is still my mother and she's still somebody's mother. She's not just a piece of trash."

Despite living in the home, son Frank Scheibe says he's not sure when his mother died. "I love her very much. She's very much missed," he told ABC7.

"It was almost like two separate living quarters. She lived downstairs. He lived upstairs," said Chief Martin Knolmayer, Village of Worth Police

Worth Police are calling this a death investigation.