I was going to write about true crime documentaries tonight, but as I started this post, the show Hoarding, Buried Alive is on, and as always, I am blown away by the disease.
I can understand the hoarding of things, particularly family items. I am very close to my parents, especially my mother, and I can absolutely see myself having a hard time letting go of her things when she is gone.
It’s the trash I can’t fathom. And the animal feces. The kitchens that don’t work, the bathroom that are full of adult diapers, the COCKROACHES. How do people live like this? Even worse, how can they fathom making their children and pets live in the toxic filth?
The simple answer is that they just don’t see it. Something in their brains are wired to look at things differently, and that component often ruins their relationships with children and family members. As angry as I get at some of these people, I also feel sorry for them, because according to one psychologist I’ve spoken to, it’s often harder to cure than drug or alcohol addiction.
Being the research nerd I am, I had to do some digging to see if any criminals were known as hoarders. Unfortunately, since hoarding can be criminal if the city gets involved, I hit a brick wall.
So instead I bring you 3 Famous Hoarding Cases.
Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale
Edith and her daughter lived in a mansion in East Hampton, N.Y. The house was known as the Grey Gardens, and a documentary with the same name eventually told their stories.
Like many hoarders, Edith and her daughter were eccentric recluses. According to the research, they had over 300 cats living in their expensive hoard. And like many of the cases seen on the television shows, workers found mounds of empty cans and feces everywhere. But the mother and daughter made the news when the city tried to evict them for one simple reason: they were Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ aunt and first cousin!
Homer Lusk Collyer and Langley Collyer
Brothers Homer and Langley became famous after their deaths in 1947. Langley took care of Homer, who was blind and paralyzed, and spent his nights searching for collectibles. Officials believed the pair had 100 tons of hoard in their Manhattan brownstone. And to protect his precious tokens, Langley set booby traps.
He was killed when he accidentally triggered one, but Homer’s body was found first.
Langley was killed when he accidentally triggered one of these traps and found crushed beneath his hoard several days later. His brother starved to death.
Ida Mayfield Wood
Ida lived among New York high society in the late 19th century. She was very beautiful and had many suitors. Benjamin Wood, publisher of New York Daily News, eventually made her his bride. Their marriage wasn’t a good one, and he fathered an illegitimate child.
Out of guilt, Benjamin gave Ida large sums of money, and by the time of his death in 1900, she was very wealthy, and she was given control of the New York Daily News. But after 1907’s fiscal panic, Ida grew paranoid about money and withdrew from a normal life.
By the time she died in 1932, she’d hoarded nearly a million dollars in cash. The money was stuffed in pots and pans, and a diamond necklace was found in a Cracker Jack box. $10,000 cash was found hidden around Ida’s waist.
Do you know any hoarders? Have you had help one in your family or a friend? Lived across from one?