Hoarding disorder is a mental disorder classified by the accumulation of possessions. Those with hoarding disorder often acquire an excessive amount of material items and are also unable to get rid of things, no matter how truly worthless they are.
If you have ever watched an episode of the reality TV series Hoarders, you know just how extreme the situations can be. Once beautiful homes become full of trash, debris, excrement, and vermin, making for deplorable and unsanitary living conditions.
However, it also reveals that often, those who struggle with hoarding disorder are good people simply living life as a prisoner of their possessions. Here are 10 heartbreaking stories of hoarders who were unable to overcome the clutter and spent their last moments engulfed in their own filth.
Related: 10 Unfortunate Deaths Caused By Food
10 Sally Honeycheck
Sally Honeycheck and her sister Lorraine lived in the house her parents originally bought in 1951 and never left. However, from the outside, the home and the two sisters appeared perfectly normal—the house was painted, the yard was maintained, and the two women were always well-put-together. Unfortunately, no one discovered the true squalor within the home until it was much too late.
The sisters had spent the last seven decades collecting various items such as clothing, jewelry, make-up, and baseball memorabilia. Due to their hoarding, the house had no heat, fungi were growing from the walls, the walls were stained with dirt, and the floor sagged.
Honeycheck’s cousin Linda Kajma tried to reach her by phone over the Thanksgiving weekend of 2018 but was unable to get a response. So she went to Honeycheck’s home to check on her. However, Kajma had no idea what she was about to encounter as she stepped inside the hellish existence that her cousins called home.
When Kajma walked through the door, she saw a bloated corpse with no eyes, nose, or mouth slumped over in a blue lawn chair. Only a few bones sticking out beneath a red sweater and bits of hair on the skull were visible. Naturally, Kajma assumed this sickening sight was a Halloween prank. Unfortunately, as she began exploring the home and wading through mountains of clutter, she then realized the “skeleton” in the chair was her cousin Sally. More disturbing was the fact that Honeycheck’s Rottweiler Jack had been eating her corpse. He, too, was found deceased in the home due to the deplorable conditions.
9 Scunthorpe Man
In Scunthorpe, England, police officers responded to a call on January 14, 2022, to check on an elderly man who had not been seen since before Christmas. Neighbors were aware that the man was a hoarder and that the exterior of his property was a troublesome sight.
The elderly man’s yard was full of trash and debris, so much so that the weight of his hoard caused the fence to collapse, and his “possessions” spewed into the neighboring yard. The home had no windows or doors, no electricity, and no inside toilet. The property also had an ongoing water leak that spanned the course of 15 years and also flooded neighboring properties.
Tony Graves, a relative of one of the elderly man’s neighbors, stated, “He often barricaded himself in his home so no one could help him.” Sadly, he got what he hoped for, as officers discovered him dead among the filth of his hoard.
8 Evelyn Sakash
Evelyn Sakash was an award-winning set and production designer for several hit television shows such as Sesame Street, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Orange Is the New Black, and several movies. She was not only known for being talented and brilliant but also for her generosity and her willingness to always help those in need.
Sakash was also a “heavy hoarder.” Her front yard was filled with large furniture, garbage cans, and construction material, and the inside of the home had various stacks of items such as cardboard boxes and clothing, some as tall as 5 feet (1.5 meters).
Sakash’s sister hired a cleaning crew to clean out her sister’s home after she went missing in October of 2020. Unfortunately, the cleaners discovered Sakash’s mummified body in her kitchen under a pile of debris.
7 Skip Bynum
Concerned friends of 67-year-old Dallas man Skip Bynum, who had been missing for nearly two weeks, contacted the local police to see if they could assist in finding the elderly gentleman. Bynum had lived in his home with his mother until a few years before, when she passed away. He had no other siblings. However, when police arrived at the Bynum’s home, the hoard was so massive they had to cut a hole in the roof and crawl through the attic in order to gain access inside.
Cadaver dogs and a search team were sent out to assist in the rescue efforts, but initially, the only body they found was that of a dead raccoon. The search continued for two more days as enormous amounts of trash, debris, and jugs filled with urine and feces were removed from the home until around noon that second day, the man’s body was finally discovered.
In light of this heartbreaking situation, the firefighters on scene were able to make one successful rescue—they found the elderly man’s dog Buddy alive in the home, and he was given to a friend of Bynum’s.
6 Rita Corpin
Rita Corpin was a retired history teacher who had devoted 40 years of her life to educating youth. While she was described as “eccentric and terribly lonely,” it wasn’t until her boyfriend passed away from a heart attack that her part-time collecting turned into full-on hoarding.
Corpin had a history with the city officials of Santa Ana, California, as neighbors constantly complained about the condition of the home she lived in, as well as two other properties she owned that were in the same state of disarray. However, Corpin’s hoarding behavior didn’t change, even after she was issued notices and fines by the city. She did the bare minimum needed to comply and keep authorities at bay but never allowed them access to her property
In June 2014, Corpin’s dead body was found by a gardener. She was in a chair on her front porch, surrounded by trash and cats. The amount of debris surrounding Corpin was so bad that it took officers over three hours to clear the area in order to remove her body from the premises.
5 Bruce Roberts
Bruce Roberts inherited his late parents’ home at a very young age, along with $1 million. And over the last 40 to 50 years, he had very little contact with anyone from the outside world. Roberts was described as reclusive and was well known by his neighbors by the brown coat he wore every day as he paced up and down the street.
Roberts’s home was known as the “creepy house on the corner”—for a good reason. It was surrounded by barbed wire, the windows were nailed shut, and cans were scattered about the unkempt yard. Regardless of the condition of his home and his unwillingness to communicate with his neighbors, in 2017, they became concerned after he no longer went out to run errands or even check his mail, so they called the police to investigate.
When police arrived, they found debris and trash piled up from the floor to ceiling of the home. They also found Roberts’ decomposing body—half was in the hallway, and the other half was charred, slouched over a heater. However, the horror didn’t end with finding Roberts’s body. A year later, a cleaning company came to the home to attempt to clear out the hoard when they discovered a disgusting sight—another corpse surrounded by 70 bottles of air freshener.
The second body was later identified as Shane Snellman, who had been missing since 2002. It is believed that Snellman attempted to break into Roberts’s home and was shot several times. However, Roberts kept Snellman’s body in his home for approximately 15 years and deliberately used large amounts of air freshener to mask the smell.
4 James Pettit
James Pettit was a former National Grid Worker and had lived at his home in Birmingham, West Midlands, for the last four decades. From the outside, Pettit seemed like he had everything together and was often spotted well-dressed, carrying his dry cleaning after being dropped off by a taxi. However, the life he led inside his home was much, much different than the image he portrayed to onlookers.
Police were called to Pettit’s home in January 2020 for a welfare check. However, when they kicked down the door, an avalanche of junk came flowing out. Pettit’s body was found upstairs under a mountain of clutter. Unfortunately, it took a total of five hours to clear out the hoard before they were able to safely get to him and remove him from the home.
3 Dean Verboven
Forty-two-year-old Dean Verboven lived with his 69-year-old mother, Barbara, in Greenwich, Connecticut. Barbara was employed by the Board of Education in Greenwich but had to leave her position after becoming ill, and Dean was her caregiver.
The hoarding made their home an eyesore to the neighborhood, and naturally, neighbors began complaining even though they stated the Verbovens were “sweet, nice people.” In October 2012, a dumpster had been placed on the property, and state social workers were set to arrive in hopes of clearing out the hoard. Refusing to give up his home or possessions, Dean intentionally set a fire inside and took his own life. While this was a tragic ending to an already horrific scene, fire crews were able to rescue Barbara from the blaze and transport her to a local hospital for treatment.
2 Katherine Smith
When foul odors and rodents were seen coming from Katherine Smith’s home in Peoria, Arizona, police were dispatched to check on the 66-year-old woman. (Link 14) However, due to the terrible hoarding conditions within the home, officers were unable to enter and relied on drones to search the premises. Once Smith’s body had been located, it took members of the Peoria Police Special Assignment Unit wearing hazmat suits and going through massive amounts of trash and debris to remove Smith’s decomposed, mummified body. (Link 15)
In the days following the discovery of Smith’s body, neighbors began complaining of a rat infestation within the neighborhood, with one neighbor stating she had as many as “50 rats in her yard.” Biohazard and clean-up crews arrived shortly after that, removing enough trash and debris to fill nine dumpsters.
During their efforts to remove the hoard, they discovered a redtail python and ball python in enclosures. They then realized that Smith had been breeding rats to feed her pet snakes, but once she died, the rat population in her home grew completely out of control and spread throughout the entire neighborhood.
1 John Arthur Noble
John Arthur Noble lived in West Yorkshire in a home with barricaded doors and windows in order to ensure the outside world never saw the hoard inside. The only people who ever stopped by were those bringing shopping deliveries, but Noble refused to answer the door for anyone.
Noble’s brother Roy, neighbors, and social services tried to reach out to him, but he shut everyone out, including his children. He was only known as a “recluse and a hoarder living in squalor.” However, Noble hadn’t always lived this way. Noble and his wife had divorced approximately 30 years prior, which led him to drink, hoard, and eventually, lose all relationships with his family.
Noble was found mummified in his home in April 2021, and neighbors told police they hadn’t seen him for at least a year before that. He was found next to a sofa with hundreds of empty cigarette packets and several bottles of urine scattered about. Officers also found rooms full of food (dating to 2019 and 2020), beer, videotapes, additional urine containers, and outdated mail.