JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Missing-persons detectives in hazardous-materials suits searched a Westside home full of rotting garbage to find the body of a 72-year-old retired psychologist who had not been seen for three days.Jacksonville Fire-Rescue spokesman Tom Francis said rescuers were called to a home in the 7600 block of Crest Drive Tuesday night by the woman’s family.The woman’s Chihuahua roaming in the front yard was described as emaciated.When firefighters forced their way inside, they found found piles of garbage 6 to 7 feet high.
Two police officers who searched the home shortly after 11 p.m. were overcome by fumes and taken to the hospital as a precaution. Francis called the odor “unbelievable; description cannot define.”
An initial search of the house by police and rescuers with a K-9 search dog did not find the woman. Police and firefighters returned to the home Wednesday morning with cadaver dogs and protective equipment for a second search of the home. A body was found near the front door.Police identified the woman as Carina DeOcampo.Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Rick Hike described the conditions inside as “deplorable.””The house is in total disarray. It appears that’s the way the house always is,” Hike said.Manny Manjon, a cousin, said DeOcampo became a recluse after retiring as a psychologist with the Florida Department of Corrections. He said family would drop food off for her at the front door, but no one was allowed inside.
Manjon said the food he left for her on Sunday was still sitting on the hood of DeOcampo’s car.DeOcampo’s family said she had heart problems and they had once called 911 for medical help, but she refused to open the door to them.Channel 4’s Laura Mazzeo was told DeOcampo had hoarded from an early age, but it got worse when a family member died.”Hoarding is a disorder,” said Elizabeth Hammond, a professional organizer that is familiar with this particular mental illness. “It’s a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder.”Hammond said it can appear from the outside that hoarders are living normal lives, but they don’t let anyone inside their homes so they can hide the fact that they save everything — even garbage.”Coke bottles, any kind of trash — they can’t get rid of it because it reminds them of something,” Hammond said.”(She was a) very, very good person. Very helpful. Religious,” Manjon said. “She helped a lot of people, but couldn’t help herself.”Although no foul play was suspected, homicide detectives have taken over the case and an autopsy was to be conducted to determine the cause of death.City code enforcement personnel have condemned the house.