HUFFINGTONPOST.COM – Abandoned homes have become an increasingly common sight amidst a national foreclosure crisis. Yet what may lurk forgotten behind closed doors may be much worse than nothing at all.
A Milwaukee real estate agent entered one such house last month after it was repossessed due to tax foreclosure — the government can foreclose on a home if taxes and subsequent fees are not paid off within a designated time period — to find a sight he's not likely to forget soon. The body of the owner David Carter was found on the stairs in a “nearly skeletonized” state after being left there undiscovered for what investigators believe to be up to four years, The Daily Mail reports.
Carter, whose friends and acquaintances described as “smart and generous,” even “funny,” quit his job as a nuisance control officer for the City of Milwaukee in 2007, telling co-workers that he planned to move to New Mexico, according to the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. Instead, it appears that Carter committed suicide. He was found with a bullet wound through his head and a handgun on his chest the day that he would have turned 45 years old.
Sadly, Carter's isn't the first body to be discovered after a seemingly unfathomable amount of time. In England, creditors looking for unpaid bills found the body of a 38-year-old London woman in her rented room in 2006 nearly three years after she's believed to have died. The episode is the subject of a forthcoming film, Dreams of Life, the research for which revealed that the woman was acquaintances with many influential members of London's 80s and 90s pop music scene.
In addition, police last year found an elderly woman's body in a home in Sydney, Australia after she was believed to have died sometime around 2003.
Though Carter and others were found in their homes years after their deaths, the opposite situation — declaring someone dead prematurely — has also occurred. A Florida woman is currently suing her lender, JPMorgan Chase, after the bank mistakenly declared her deceased in 2010, which she claimed ruined her credit score. Similarly, a veteran has had to prove his existence four times over in the past two years after the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs stopped paying him his pension benefits on the grounds that he's no longer living.
One in every 627 Wisconsin housing units received a foreclosure filing in December 2011, according to RealtyTrac. In total, the state had the tenth most foreclosure activity of any state.