Cleanup begins at Hazel Park home where dead body was found

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison-Park News | Published July 27, 2022

HAZEL PARK — Officials say work has begun cleaning out a home in Hazel Park where the owner was found dead amid squalid conditions earlier this month.

Neighbors of the home in the 1400 block of East Muir Avenue reportedly grew concerned when they hadn’t seen or heard from their neighbor in five days. A welfare check July 3 led to the discovery of the 54-year-old man’s body inside the home, which was said to be littered with trash. Forced entry was gained through a door.

“The home appeared to be in a hoarding stage,” said Hazel Park Police Chief Brian Buchholz in an email. “It was cluttered with garbage everywhere.”

Ed Klobucher, the city manager of Hazel Park, said that the city has since made contact with the deceased’s brother in California, as well as with a friend of the deceased. The friend was given permission by the brother to access the home and begin removing items.

“(The friend) indicated there is no human waste in the home that he can detect. At this point, the home appears to be salvageable, although a complete inspection of the interior and exterior must be conducted in order to be sure that this is indeed the case,” Klobucher said in an email. “A work order has been issued to cut the grass, and to remove junk and debris from the yard.”

The city manager said that with respect to hoarding situations and how they can address these homes before it becomes an issue, “there is no easy answer.” He acknowledged that there are cases where a person may realize they have a hoarding issue, or know someone who does, but they fear reporting the matter will lead to trouble.

Klobucher and Buchholz recommended calling Michigan Adult Protective Services as a starting point for resolving a potential hoarding situation. The number is (855) 444-3911.

“City government cannot simply enter the inside of a private residence to take enforcement action without a court order,” Klobucher said.

The city of Hazel Park previously had a hoarding situation in July 2016, in the 100 block of West Milton Avenue. That situation came to light when residents smelled the stench of decay, leading to the discovery of a body that had been deceased since December 2015, found buried under a heap of trash. In that case, the homeowner appeared to have died naturally while a woman he had taken in was reportedly of diminished mental capacity, allowing the place to fall into squalor.

Officials say these situations are addressed as soon as possible, so that it does not become a public health hazard.

“While the next of kin have been very cooperative in this case (on East Muir Avenue), the city will continue to monitor the situation,” Klobucher said.