Published October 07, 2012
LAS VEGAS – Armed with a court-signed abatement warrant, Las Vegas officials have swarmed a home to deal with what they call the worst case of hoarding they've ever seen.
Officials began hauling away items from Kenneth Epstein's home on Friday after they found materials stacked from floor to ceiling inside and declared it uninhabitable, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
"It's a very tragic situation, but it's also tragic for the neighbors," Councilman Stavros Anthony said.
City spokesman David Riggleman said Epstein had created a space for himself to crawl atop the materials, but wouldn't have been able to walk upright in the house.
Last week, building code officials went to the home but couldn't enter because there was so much stuff blocking the door. They had to take the door off the hinges to enter.
Riggleman said 10 truckloads of stuff were removed by Saturday afternoon and the cleanup continued Sunday. In all, a private removal company was working with officials to remove about 15 truckloads of materials.
Among items removed so far were five refrigerators filled with food so rancid it had liquefied. Five dead cats also have been found, and nine others have been captured by animal control officers.
Epstein declined to comment. "You can write whatever you like about me," he told the Review-Journal.
He has been cooperative except when he locked himself in the house Friday when workers tried to enter to remove stuff authorized under the administrative warrant.
Items that Epstein wants to keep will be put in two storage bins and fumigated. If he doesn't pay for the cleanup, the city will file a lien against his house.
Epstein has received eight citations from the city about the hoarding since 2007. According to neighbors, the problem became more severe the last two years as materials also piled up in his front courtyard and back patio.
Epstein became the owner in 2010 after his mother died.
People often become hoarders because of trauma in their life, according to experts.
"This probably won't be the last episode. We understand we may have to return," Riggleman said.