2014-03-29 09:01 AM
DALLAS (AP) -- A house was so jammed with clutter that it took two days before the homeowner's body was finally discovered amid the debris, authorities said Friday.
Only after city officials brought in a contractor to remove piles of debris from the home did cadaver dogs help crews in protective suits locate the 67-year-old man Thursday.
At one point during the search, emergency workers who had looked through multiple piles of clutter without finding the man cut holes in the roof to gain access through the attic. The debris reached to the ceiling in some areas.
The carcasses of two dogs and a raccoon found amid the squalor distracted cadaver dogs used in the search. Also found were gallon milk jugs filled with urine as the bathroom was inaccessible because of the clutter.
"We just could not get around or find anything," said Dallas Fire-Rescue Lt. Joel Lavender.
Authorities went to the house last weekend on a welfare check after the unidentified man had not been heard from since March 15.
Workers wearing protective suits and breathing gear could be seen this week removing loads of trash from the home, including outdated electronics.
"It honestly looks as though if you didn't throw away anything -- anything at all for, say, 20 years," neighbor Mary Pat Rodriguez told Dallas station WFAA-TV. "That's what your house would look like inside."
It's not clear if foul play is suspected in the man's death. Homicide detectives are helping with the investigation, but police didn't immediately respond to messages seeking details about those detectives' involvement.
A Chihuahua was alive amid the disarray. Leo Gregg, a friend of the man, told local television stations he is now caring for the dog named Buddy.
"I knew that dog meant everything to him," Gregg said.