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Elderly couple found buried alive under trash in Chicago home

Associated Press / May 26, 2010

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CHICAGO — Fire crews investigating a mysterious stench found an elderly couple buried alive under mounds of garbage in their Chicago home, authorities said yesterday.

The couple, in their 70s, were found Monday night, Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said. The Fire Department team forced in the door of the South Side home and found an overpowering smell, piles of food waste, and trash.

A spokesman for Jackson Park Hospital, Margo Brooks, said the two were admitted and remained listed in critical condition at noon yesterday.

Police had initially been called to the two-flat apartment building by neighbors who had not seen the couple in some time and wondered about their welfare. Police called in the Fire Department because of the stench; the team that entered wore hazardous-materials suits.

An 83-year-old neighbor, Hattie Fields, said the couple had lived in the building for years. Police declined to identify the couple.

She said that she used to see the woman sitting on the front porch as she walked by but no longer could because the hedges had not been trimmed for years and had grown level with the second floor of the building, obscuring the view.

She said she was fairly certain that no one else lived in the building, although there were unoccupied apartments on the first floor and in the basement. She said signs of neglect were obvious. “The backyard is also full of debris,’’ she said.

She said she used to see the man going out and getting in his truck to go to work in the morning, although not lately.

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