CHESHIRE — A 66-year-old woman who lived alone in her 22 Winslow Road home was found dead Saturday in the basement under a pile of debris after a day-long search.
Police responded to a call for a welfare check on Beverly Mitchell Friday after a postal carrier found mail had piled up at the home for about a week and a half. The investigation is ongoing and being treated as a hazmat situation.
Police determined that there was a structural collapse of the first floor based on the weight of the content of the house.
“The floor gave way and collapsed into the basement. The contents of that room caved in on top of her,” said Sgt. Kevin O’Donnell.
“We did a well being and we determined it wasn’t safe to continue searching and asked for assistance when we saw the first floor collapsed,” O’Donnell said. “We contacted Connecticut Homeland, who brought special equipment for search and rescue.”
The fire department went with special equipment, the state assisted with cadaver dogs and the Connecticut Urban Search and Rescue Unit, Connecticut’s Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protect and state police dogs.
Searchers didn’t find her until Saturday.
They were eventually able to make entry by cutting into the side of the home, O’Donnell said.
Police found stacks of debris piled to the ceiling.
“She was a hoarder,” O’Donnell said. “This was an accidental death caused by disrepair.”
No next of kin were identified. The state medical examiner will release the body to a funeral home.
Police and social service agencies had tried for years to help Mitchell, O’Donnell said.
She had a long history of reclusive behavior, and didn’t want contact with the outside world other than a rare trip to the store or senior services. The house has been boarded up.
“She was a recluse,” he said. “We weren’t sure she was in the building. She has a history of leaving and not telling anyone.”