May 25th, 2010
12:45 PM ET

Hoarders trapped under debris for weeks


Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

An elderly couple was rescued Monday after being trapped for possibly weeks under mountains of debris in their apartment, Chicago authorities said.

The husband and wife, who are believed to be in their 70s, are both listed in serious condition at an area hospital, Larry Langford, Director of Media Affairs for the Chicago Fire Department told CNN.

According to Langford, rodents had attacked the couple who could not free themselves from the litter and clutter that rendered them immobile.

"They were in it," Langford said. "I'm not sure how they got in it, they were in it, and they couldn't get up and get out."

Langford described the debris in the apartment as "front to back, floor to ceiling."

The victims were found after a well check on the residence, authorities said.

Robert Perez, public information officer for the Chicago Police said the couple hadn't been seen for a couple of weeks.

Perez told CNN that fire fighters had to break down the door to gain entry into the apartment.

"When they got in there, it was just debris everywhere," Perez said,"sort of like a hoarder, that was the term that was being used."

The husband and wife were unconscious but alive, he added.

"Apparently they had been there a while," Langford said. "It's kind of an unbelievable sight. They've been in there for a long time and there's just a lot of stuff in there."

Authorities would not disclose the identity of the couple.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Gabe Falcon
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Mari

    Hoarding is an illness associated with OCD. Its very sad. So everyone learn a lesson, buy one sweater, donate one. Throw out old magazines, etc. Hoarding starts in subtle ways, beware that you are not falling into the trap.

    May 25, 2010 at 7:50 pm |
  2. Diane Berube Canada

    It really is a shame they couldn’t find a way to fill their hearts instead of their home.

    May 25, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  3. Karrie

    As the daughter of a hoarder, I can tell you it is not a compulsion that isn't easy to deal with from either side. I have had many and many a fight with my hoarding parent over what I consider "JUNK"; but trying to get my parent to see it so is next to impossible. I truly fear the day my parent dies as I am sure I will be the one to deal with the aftermath. unfortunately, my parent is a product of my grandparents who were also hoarders. I turned out to be a minimalist.

    May 25, 2010 at 4:56 pm |
  4. Lisa

    My understanding is that once hoarders decide to accept treatment it can be very effective. It's hard to go through but with the right support they can clean up the mess. Unfortunately if it goes on too long, sometimes the homes are beyond repair and have to be condemned. I've researched the problem a lot because I have a friend with this problem. In her case it was triggered by the loss of a significant relationship and then her job – she was very worried she might not have enough to provide for herself, her daughter and her pets so when she had money, she over-shopped, and she had a hard time letting go of anything. Unfortunately many hoarders also make bad decisions about pets and have too many, and many of them are compulsive shoppers or collect in other ways like scavenging and dumpster diving to find things they think are still useful.

    May 25, 2010 at 4:55 pm |
  5. Kapran

    One thing that most people don't associate with many hoarders is the fact that many of them encountered periods in life where they were poor and had little, like the great depression. My uncle's house 2600 square foot house was immaculately clean and organized when you walked in every room but you absolutely could not open a single drawer, cabinet, attic, closet or any other storage space without it being completely packed to the ceiling. He had numerous step ladders and knew the exact location of every item. It has taken me over 2 years to declutter and remove all the useless junk- some of it 50 and 60 years old and I am still working on it.

    May 25, 2010 at 4:54 pm |
  6. KD

    Just can't find much sympathy for those kinds of choices that people make...........maybe some trash needed to pounce on them as a wake up call. psychological pathology is no excuse. I am not into enabling.

    May 25, 2010 at 4:48 pm |
  7. Zulu

    My wife watches the 'Hoarders' television show instead of horror movies. It terrifies her more than any scary movie ever could ... sort of like a traffic accident, where you don't want to see it but can't look away.

    May 25, 2010 at 4:43 pm |
  8. Been There

    People don't understand that you can't just help the hoarder clean up or just do it for them and make them well. The stuff is the symptom. The mind is where the disease is. I've cleaned out a house and 6 10X10 mini storage units and it was all for nothing. The hoarder filled it back up in less than 2 years. Bottom line, you cant do it for them any more than you can just make an alcoholic quit drinking. Don't give up trying to help, just be realistic about what you can do.

    May 25, 2010 at 4:34 pm |
  9. Kristin

    This is really sad. I used to think that these people were just lazy people who wouldn't clean (and I still think to a certain degree that SOME of them are). But, most of them are very mentally ill and have such a connection to their things, even if it is an old pizza box, that they cannot fathom getting rid of it, let a along throwing it away! I just hope that they have family, or the means to get help! That is no way to live!

    May 25, 2010 at 4:34 pm |
  10. TRACY J

    This is a very disturbing story, I pray that this couple will be ok and hope they get the help they need

    May 25, 2010 at 4:29 pm |
  11. Andrea

    People are looking for security. So sorry to hear this happening. Hope those with this disease can get help...

    May 25, 2010 at 4:27 pm |
  12. L Salerno

    i lived with a hoarder for years, and still visit her once in a while. Her case isn't quite as extreme as this story, you can still enter her home, lol, but.to that say she is in need of professional mental-health invervention is a bit of an understatement.
    It is definitely an issue for the professionals.

    May 25, 2010 at 4:15 pm |
  13. KLW

    God bless them. Hopefully they'll be ok. (Where's their family? Do they not have anyone that can check on them from the family?)

    May 25, 2010 at 3:51 pm |
  14. NateSummers

    My step mother is on the verge of becoming like this. My dad is an enabler and won't get her help. This is a serious condition. These people need help before the literally kill themselves with this stuff. I hope these people pull through and get help.

    May 25, 2010 at 3:48 pm |
  15. Peptide

    How does this happen though? They didn't grow up hoarding. I'm sure they weren't hoarding when got married. I wonder what turns.

    May 25, 2010 at 3:33 pm |
  16. JPX

    Hoarding is a form of obsessive compulsive disorder and it is very difficult to treat. Hoarders form personal attachments to items that you or I would consider garbage or of having little value. They see potential value in everything and fear throwing something away because they are afraid that if they throw it away they will need it later. Rather than make the decision to throw something away they decide to keep everything.

    May 25, 2010 at 2:33 pm |
  17. Roscoe

    How in the world did this happen...it really does not make sense. Its somewhat sad and funny all at the same time.

    May 25, 2010 at 2:09 pm |
  18. szz121

    This is so sad. I watch the show hoarders and it typically profiles older couples with the same problem. I hope their health condition improves and that someone will take action to get their apt. cleaned up.

    May 25, 2010 at 1:56 pm |