Thursday, December 4, 2008

Art and Real Life

Most of you know that my new YA Dirty Little Secrets is about hoarding, specifically about a girl who has lived in a hoarded house for most of her life. My 'elevator pitch' for the book is: When 16 year old Lucy comes home to find her mother dead under a stack of National Geographics, she has to decide how far she'll go to keep the family secrets safe. I got the idea for the book from reading a magazine article about adult children of hoarders and how they grew up. I made up the 'dead mother' angle, because I needed a story to go along with the situation.

There was a story in yesterday's NBC Los Angeles that shows that nothing is fiction anymore(thanks to Lindsey for the link):

Elderly Woman's Mummified Body Found in NoHo Home

Updated 6:31 AM PST, Thu, Dec 4, 2008

Related Topics: North Hollywood | Hamilton

Authorities say the mummified body of an elderly woman -- possibly dead for a year -- was found in a trash-filled North Hollywood home where she had been living with her adult son.

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Police are learning more about a woman whose mummified remains turned up this week inside her home in the San Fernando Valley.

More Details Learned in Mummified Body Case


Officers were sent to the residence in the 6700 block of Vantage Avenue on Monday evening, said Officer Julianne Sohn of the Los Angeles Police Department's Media Relations office.

The Daily News quoted neighbors as saying that 48-year-old Robert Hunt lived in the home with his mother, Barbara, who is listed as the owner and who would be 86 if alive. Police do believe it is her body. Although it's not clear why Hunt never notified authorities of his mother's death, he is not a criminal suspect in his mother's death, police later said.

The mummified remains of what appears to have been the man's mother were found in a barricaded back bedroom, the newspaper reported.

"We found the remains of an adult; we were not able to identify who that individual was," LAPD Lt. Alan Hamilton of the North Hollywood Station told the newspaper.

"I can tell you it was in female clothes, old lady clothes," Hamilton said. "We guess that the time of death was at least one year (ago)."

Police said they went to the home after being contacted by a mortgage broker who said the residence would revert to the bank at midnight Monday after going through foreclosure.

Robert Hunt was at the scene when police went to the home and was interviewed but was not arrested. No homicide investigation was started, Hamilton said, but the case was forwarded to elder abuse investigators.

Neighbors described Barbara Hunt as a woman who used a wheelchair and who rarely left her house. Neither she nor her son had taken out their trash in 30 years, despite court orders to do so, the neighbors said.

Besides the trash and debris, dozens of cats also lived in the house.

Interesting and very sad. I like to think that I do justice to people in this situation with the book, but reading real life stories about hoarding puts even more pressure on me to get it right.

On this date: In 1991, hostage Terry Anderson is released in Lebanon.

1 comment:

Linda D. (sbk) said...

That's so sad.

30 years of garbage? Wow. That's gotta smell awful.