14 People Who Died From Their Hoarding Addictions

What’s the difference, really, between having an intense VHS collection and having an addiction to hoarding? How do experts define having a "problem" with discarding possessions? Don't most people have mental and emotion attachments to the things that they own? In large part the result of shows like the wildly popular Hoarders, television viewers have come to see this frightening form of mental illness as something that only happens to completely crazy people living in rural areas. But the truth of the matter is that hoarders exist in so many different varieties that many would-be hoarders might not even know that they're a single purchase or a lingering piece of mail away from being formally classified as suffering from the condition.

Sure, most people – even if they are avid collectors of some peculiar item – aren’t stacking up newspapers to their ceilings until they fall over and crush them, but, according to experts, collecting something until it physically crushes you isn't the necessary precondition for being considered a hoarder. A hoarding addiction can come from out of anywhere; some people are natural shut-ins, while other hoarders are dealing with an intense trauma that they never received treatment for. The unfortunate truth is that some hoarders who aren't receiving the proper care, might be heading towards a horrible death.

According to hoarding statistics, around 19 million Americans currently suffer from severe hoarding. And hoarding is linked to homelessness, house fires, and other mental disorders like OCD. Some receive treatment for hoarding addiction, but the majority of hoarders go undiagnosed and untreated, resulting in the horrific – and often long undiscovered – deaths of hoarders each year.

  • The Hoarder Sisters Who Lived In The Haunted House

    Video: YouTube

    What's the weirdest thing you've ever done with your sibling? If it wasn't living with their dead body for over a year, then you're nowhere near as strange as the Waldman sisters. This duo lived in a Grey Gardens style home in a suburb of Boston that was known to the neighbors as "the haunted house."

     The dead body of the younger Waldman sister was discovered by a visiting cousin who found the 67 year-old woman buried under a table in a mass of clutter. Police had to inform the older sister of her sibling's death despite the body's advanced stage of decomposition. 

  • The Mother Who Lived With Her Son's Decaying Corpse

    In 2016, it was revealed to an elderly, legally-blind Brooklyn woman named Rita Wolfensohn that she had been living with the skeletal remains of her son for almost two decades. The oedipal discovery was made by a relative who stopped by the house to pick up some things for Wolfensohn, who was in the hospital at the time. On the wildly cluttered second floor the visitor discovered a fully intact skeleton wearing jeans, socks and a shirt, lying on its back on a thin mattress on the floor.

    Police believe that the woman didn't know about the death of her son because the room looked as if "a garbage truck had dumped its load" and stank of rotting food. To her credit, Wolfensohn also probably didn't smell the corpse because, according to police, it was so decayed, it didn't even stink anymore.

  • The Hoarder Couple Who Died In A Fire

    Photo: TheophileEscargot / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    Roger Firestone and his wife Maureen were a pair of hoarders who died in March 2016 after one of their many cardboard boxes caught on fire and ignited their curtains, which then spread the blaze to the rest of their home. Witnesses say that Roger was seen trying to stomp out the burning box on his lawn before running back inside the house to save his bedridden wife.

    Post-mortem examinations showed that Roger and Maureen died from smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning, and local officials opted not to treat the blaze as suspicious. However, while the couple both perished, two care-providers who worked for the family were able to escape the blaze.

  • The Hoarder Who Died In His Own Hamster Nest

    Eight months after his death, the decomposed remains of Denis Walsby – a known recluse to his neighbors in Southampton, England – were discovered in his living room after police barged in and realized that he had "created a small nest for himself." What was left of Walsby's body was found under a ceiling-high stack of paper at the bottom of his stairs, but, like a lot of hoarders who die beneath piles of their own design, even getting to his body took a considerable amount of work.

    Police said it was so cluttered that they couldn't even step inside the door when they first arrived at the house. The flies buzzing around the premises were their first signal that something was likely seriously amiss.