Theodore Wroblewski, missing 2 years, found dead in own house

79-year-old Theodore Wroblewski, who disappeared from Niagara Falls, New York back in February 2009, was found dead in his own basement on Thursday — crushed under a pile of his own stuff. It seems Wroblewski was a compulsive hoarder. Quote from the article:

Family members who had not seen him for several weeks reported Wroblewski missing on Feb. 12, 2009. City police searched his house that day, and twice more during the following month, but didn’t find him amid a stockpile of debris “from floor to ceiling, [in] the whole house,” said Capt. William M. Thomson, chief of detectives. “You can’t even adequately describe it.”

Wroblewski shared the house with his mother until she moved into a nursing home in 2008. The house was jammed with old newspapers and magazines, plastic bags, empty containers, cardboard boxes and scrap wood of all shapes and sizes, Thomson said.

Sounds like a serious fire hazard. From another article:

“Even as we were in there last night, it was difficult to reach the body,” Thomson said. “The basement was filled from the floor to ceiling with trash or treasures I guess they were to him. We would try to move things and other stuff would fall on us.”

Thomson said Wroblewski’s cousin had gained access to the Grand Avenue home last fall after estate proceedings. Since that time, he has been having the contents of the house hauled away by the truckload.

This is the second Charley Project case, and the third case profiled on my blog, where the MP was a compulsive hoarder and turned up on their own property, buried under a pile of their stuff. The other two were women, Billie Jean James and Eunice Burwell-Workman. Eunice was missing for six years, but Billie wasn’t missing long enough to be put on Charley.

12 thoughts on “Theodore Wroblewski, missing 2 years, found dead in own house

  1. Princess Shantae April 2, 2011 / 10:01 am

    Sounds like the Collyer Brothers from back in the forties. This guy’s mother is very lucky she moved into a nursing home, b/c with the Collyer brothers, the one was killed by falling junk, and his brother who was paralyzed and blind, starved to death before he was found.
    There was a story just yesterday about a guy in Ohio, in his forties, who sat in a chair for two years in his own mess. He had a girlfriend and another guy living with him who just let him set there and brought him food but never tried to get help for him. His landlady knew him from before and said he used to be active and all. The police said it was the worst thing they ever had to deal with, the smell was terrible and he was rotted and fused to the chair with maggots and who knows what all. His so called friends only called for help when they couldn’t get him to respond. They had to knock a wall down to get him and his chair out. The story didn’t say but I guess he was probably realy obese.
    And the landlady claimed she didn’t know things were that bad. She would come by to visit and he was always in the chair with a blanket over him, but she claims she never smelled anything. She of all people should of smelled it b/c she didn’t live there and wasn’t used to it like they must of been.
    I realy think some people just plain don’t have any kind of standard of hygiene.

    • Kat April 2, 2011 / 7:04 pm

      Read about this. They are all at fault. Respecting someone’s wishes only goes so far, though I guess it goes a long way when you are cashing a check. Disgusting, all of them. And the landlady is full of it. You could NOT go in there and not tell. Sorry. That’s the way it is.

  2. Jer April 2, 2011 / 1:00 pm

    I cannot understand the mentality of people on that show Hoarders and the MP case here. It’s really disturbing to me when people seem incapable of keeping a neat and clean residence.

    Of course, I’ve been told for years that I have OCD. That my excessively clean car and clean apt. are not normal, but at least I won’t be crushed to death by piles of my own stuff.

  3. Princess Shantae April 2, 2011 / 1:10 pm

    I’d like to know since just when did being neat and clean start to be a mental problem? That OCD gets thrown around and used against anybody that doesn’t live in a pig sty.
    The people on Hoarders are just nasty. It just doesn’t occur to them that its not healthy to have your toilet broken for years and to be keeping tired up plastic bags of human waste in the house.
    And their families that live with them are just the biggest enablers.

    • Meaghan April 2, 2011 / 5:23 pm

      It’s not quite as simple as that. I have a close relative who’s a compulsive hoarder — and whom I wouldn’t be at all surprised, if she should turn up buried under a pile of her crap. And her family is terrified of her. They have tried approaching her about her problem, but she refuses to admit she has one. If she owns her own home, there’s not a whole lot they can do about it.

    • Jer April 2, 2011 / 8:00 pm

      I don’t buy it when people tell me I have OCD. It’s not like I’m Nicholas Cage in Matchstick Men. I’m just being an adult and refuse to live in a dump.

  4. Tracey Reitterer April 2, 2011 / 4:52 pm

    Sadly enough, you can add another to that list, Meaghan.

    Woman, Dead Since Christmas, Found Amid Trash in HomeApr 2, 2011 – 1:20 PM Text Size
    Lisa Holewa
    For three months, the adult son of Cecylia Opilka lived in their Chicago townhouse with her corpse. Her decomposing body was entombed within the garbage that filled the home almost to the ceiling, police said.

    After being called to the residence by neighbors reporting a strong stench, city workers could barely open the front door because of the piles of trash, they said. Opilka, 80, apparently died of heart disease, the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office said, and police said her son told investigators she died on Christmas Day.

    Ronald Opilka, 43, was arrested after the gruesome discovery Thursday, when police said a small bag of marijuana fell from his pocket as he pulled out his wallet to show officers his ID. He was charged with misdemeanor drug possession and released Friday.

    Police said they likely would not seek charges against Opilka for failing to report his mother’s death because he is mentally challenged and may not have the mental capacity to realize what he should have done, WLS radio reported.

    Neighbor Michael Skowronski told the Chicago Tribune he became friends with Opilka several months ago, inviting him over for meals and taking him to a food pantry. But Skowronski grew suspicious over the last several weeks because Opilka would get upset when Skowronski asked him to go home.

    “I knew something was wrong,” Skowronski told the newspaper. “I just wasn’t sure what.”

    • Meaghan April 2, 2011 / 5:24 pm

      I don’t know if she exactly fits though. It says she died of natural causes, and her son, at least, knew what had happened.

      Still a very sad story.

  5. Princess Shantae April 2, 2011 / 5:36 pm

    He might be mentally challenged but I’ll bet everything I have he was sharp enough to keep track of her social secuirty.

  6. Kat April 2, 2011 / 7:02 pm

    I’d like to provide a slightly varying opinion on some of this. While I agree some were “hoarders”, I think that term has been overused a bit as well. It’s not a nice situation, but I have another reason, not an excuse. I’ve noticed a lot of these people seem to be older, and I know for a fact my bf’s grandmother, who lived through the Depression, had rooms of stuff she “saved, just in case”. The rest of her house was fine, but she stocked and hoarded, per say, just from experience. It wouldn’t surprise me if this is how some stuff starts with older people. The woman I’m talking about had linens, canned goods, towels, etc, things that weren’t readily available back in the day. I wonder if that doesn’t play a small part in some of these people’s issues. Before it had a name.

  7. Princess Shantae April 2, 2011 / 10:17 pm

    Good point. I also think that a lot of these cases aren’t really hoarding. Like there’s a big difference between saving every newspaper that comes in the house or buying every piece of Star Wars junk you see, and not ever flushing your commode or picking up your dog messes. The first is hoarding, the second is just plain nastiness.

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