CHESHIRE, CT (WFSB) - A house in Cheshire collapsed over the weekend, but the victim inside may have been buried under the rubble for days.
When emergency crews said they finally got into the house on Winslow Road, they found the body of Beverly Mitchell.
Police said she'd been hoarding things for years and the weight may have caused the first floor to collapse. They're not sure when the collapse happened, however.
Neighbors told Eyewitness News that the woman was a recluse and had not been seen for almost two weeks.
The mailman told police that the mail had piled up. Officers checked out the home on Thursday, but could not get inside.
They said they came back the next day with a backhoe and had to make a hole in the house to gain access.
"Ultimately by removing some of the clutter, we were able to determine her location and take her out," said Jack Casner, Cheshire Fire chief.
Mitchell was found in the basement, where police said she'd been living because of all the items on the first floor. Investigators also found several holes in the roof, leading them to believe that water also helped cause the floor to buckle.
"One night I came home on a Monday night and we had a lot of heavy rain and somebody said to me 'There is a big hole in the back of the house,'" neighbor Roger Kennedy said. "And I know she was stacking papers up in there because a long time ago, (she) came in the winter and broke a window and she and her mother said 'we are fine.' But you could see all the papers stacked up around it."
That was years ago, according to Kennedy.
Mitchell's mother died and she lived there alone with no family, neighbors said.
Police said it may be the worst case of hoarding the town had seen. However, they said there were other similar situations.
Dr. David Tolin, of the Institute of Living, said hoarding can become a big problem, especially when the person is unable to use the rooms in their home or furniture or appliances, as they are intended to be used.
"Essentially, the entire room gets converted to a storage space," Tolin added.