A year after an Australian hoarder died, cleaners find mummified body in his home

Neighbours described the man who lived in the house as a recluse

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 June, 2018, 2:42am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 June, 2018, 8:38pm

Cleaners uncovered a mummified body either under a rug or rolled up in one in the back of a house in Australia, according to neighbours and police.

“The occupant of the home died close to a year ago and the owners organised for the property to be cleaned this week,” police said on Thursday in a statement.

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Neighbours described Bruce Roberts, the man who lived in the house, as a “recluse” and a “hoarder”, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp. He was discovered dead last year in the house in Greenwich, a suburb in Sydney’s Lower North Shore.

Police visited the scene on Tuesday and opened an investigation to determine who the person was and how they died. They said the death is being “treated as suspicious”.

It is unclear how long the body had been decomposing, but police said it had been there for “a considerable time”.

Authorities are unsure whether the man who lived in the home – which was surrounded by piles of old tyres, wood and cardboard – had anything to do with the person’s death.

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One neighbour called Roberts “childlike”.

“He was [in his] late 50s or 60s, had the same brown jacket on, he was childlike in a way, he just had no expressions, nothing,” the neighbour, who was not named, told the ABC. “You’d say hello and he’d just mutter ‘hello’ or just not notice. He lived in this tiny little house on the corner, it is completely overgrown and you can see rubbish in the garden.”

He was childlike in a way, he just had no expressions, nothing

Robert and Gayle Meagher, who said that they lived next door to the man for decades, told the news organisation that his parents owned the home and that he had lived there for 40 or 50 years.

“When he died, I was really upset and I was worried that we were next door and what could we have done, but the home was not a very healthy environment, so there was nothing we could have done,” Gayle Meagher said.

“The workmen who had been clearing the home said that they had found a body under a rug in the back room,” she told 9 News, adding that she and her husband were “shaken”. “It was very creepy ... It’s very sad, especially when you don’t know how it happened,” she told the station.

Police said they are awaiting results from a postmortem examination to help determine the circumstances of death of the newly found remains.

In a similar case this year in Wales, authorities were excavating a hoarder’s home when they discovered the woman who lived there buried under a pile of papers. The woman’s mother, who had also lived there, was later found dead.