ST. CLAIR TWP., Ohio (WKBN) – Police found a dying elderly woman surrounded by mountains of debris on the ground of her St. Clair Township home, which officers described as “inhumane,” “deplorable” and “a heartbreaking sight.”
Inside the home on South Meadowbrook Circle, a 95-year-old woman laid on the floor Wednesday morning, surrounded by mounds of rotting food, a dead animal carcass, roaches and mice.
She was barely alive.
After countless attempts to get her to safety, the woman died at a local hospital about 24 hours later.
“Tragically, she chose to live in those conditions and now she’s passed away,” said St. Clair Township Police Chief Donald Hyatt.
Police said a concerned neighbor checked the woman’s porch to see if she had gotten her mail, and saw that it was still hanging on the door. He called police after shining a flashlight through the dirty windows and seeing her on the floor, a police report said.
Officers said they found rotten food on tables, counters, the sink and the floor. They also found spider webs, feces and urine, according to the report.
There were flying insects, roaches and mice everywhere, police said.
Officers said they also found piles of trash in the bathtub and spilling onto the bathroom floor.
“There are situations where someone isn’t making this conscious decision, and they have other medical situations and they don’t know what they’re doing,” Hyatt said. “That’s why we need to look in on family, look in on neighbors that potentially aren’t able to take care of themselves.”
He said that’s not what happened here.
“It’s a case of someone who knew exactly what they were doing and for whatever reason, which we now may never know, chose to live in those conditions.”
Lisa Solley, with the Area Agency on Aging, said the elderly often have a way of isolating themselves, which can present many challenges for their loved ones.
“She wanted to be in her home…as much as people might think it’s a horrible thing and it’s a very tragic situation,” she said. “Oftentimes there are services out there but if people don’t want them, that’s their choice.”
Hyatt said this likely isn’t an isolated case.
“I can almost guarantee you someone in this county is living in conditions like this, if not worse.”
Many places in the Valley offer free services to elderly people to help them live and stay safe in their homes.
In Columbiana County, residents who are age 60 and over are able to receive guardianship, homemaker, extermination and dumpster services through the senior services tax levy.
For more information on senior services and resources, visit the Area Agency on Aging’s website.