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30 Worst Hoarding Cases Ever

Grey Gardens

Edith Bouvier Beale and her mother Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale lived together in their East Hampton mansion Grey Gardens. It was there that they began collecting. Most notably, they had 300 cats. There were so many that their house fell into disrepair. How much, you ask? Enough that they also owned racoons, well, the ones who fell through the roof, at least. The odd family made the news when officials couldn’t evict them, and that news blew up. They were the cousin and aunt of First Lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis, after all.

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Rat Problem

Glen loved rats. He loved them so much that he began buying domesticated rats and letting them roam around his home uncaged after his wife died. They ended up breeding so much that the 2,500 rats ended up pushing him out of his home. He had to sleep in his chair to protect his safety while they fought and died inside. Authorities came in and removed 2,000, only to find another 350 in the walls. He was allowed to keep two as caged pets.

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It’s a trap!

The Collyer brothers lived together in their Manhattan apartment for years with the younger brother, Langley, taking care of his older, blind and paralyzed brother Homer. During this time, Langley started hoarding…well, any and everything. They had things in mass quantities, like their 25,000-book collection or their three pianos, but they also had some more unsettling things, such as pickled human organs. In his later years, Langley set booby traps to protect his hoard, one of which killed him in 1947. Authorities found Homer’s starved body first. It took weeks to find Langley, despite the fact that he only lay 10 feet away.

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Thelma who?

Thelma and Jesse Gaston slowly distanced themselves from their families over the years they were married. They also distanced themselves from their neighbors, to the point where some didn’t know Thelma even existed. Nobody but Jesse had seen her in years. When Thelma was 79, she fell through her hoard and got trapped. When 76-year-old Jesse went to save her, he too was trapped. They were stuck for a week before officials found them. They had to wear hazmat suits to retrieve the rat-bitten couple. Jesse died six weeks later, and Thelma was too sick to attend the funeral.

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Wallace's Castle

According to Richard Wallace, “an Englishman’s home is his castle.” If that’s the case, Wallace has quite the estate. His hoard is so large that it can be seen from Google Earth, the satellite that takes pictures of the world. He considers himself a collector. He archives things, collecting many similar items and comparing them, seeing how production changes over the years. He plans to archive the information in a computer, but he does not actually own a computer, so that part of his plan is a little difficult for him.

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Cat Sanctuary

If you’ve ever driven down the side of the road, you understand the desire to take home every single stray you find. Penny and Steve Lefkowitz are very familiar with that feeling, but unlike most of us, they never say no to a cat in need of a home. Their house became a well-meaning “cat sanctuary,” but by the end, it had become a horror show. They had 697 cats, 100 of which had to be put down because of their bad health. The couple received 47 counts of animal cruelty.

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The Animal Lover

It’d be easy to say Roger Blew loved animals, but after seeing the state they were in, that gets a little harder to say. He’s been arrested before after it was found out he has hoarding 350 animals. He received 28 counts of animal neglect for numerous reasons. Most animals were caged, starved, and exhausted. Many had parasites on the inside and outside. They sat in their own filth, too exhausted to sit up or respond to their rescuers. Many had to be put down.

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Well, we can agree on one thing...

BG and Lee are fairly normal hoarders, but their relationships with everyone seem to take them to the next level. They are constantly bickering with each other. When they try to clean up their home, neither can decide what to get rid of, instead choosing to just blame the other person. There is one occasion when they do seem to agree on what to do: when people came to help them clear out their home, they simply locked the helpers outside.

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Dinner for One

Some hoarders aren’t gross. That doesn’t mean the stuff they are hiding is good, though. Take Louisiana congressman William Jefferson, for example. He was put under investigation for bribery, and when he was investigated, authorities found a gold mine. Not literally, but they did find 9 frozen entrees, inside each of which was $10,000 wrapped in aluminum foil. There was $90,000 cash stored in fridges around his house, and in 2009, he was initially sentenced to 13 years in prison.

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What happens in Vegas...

Kenneth Epstein tried to make retirement cheap. After all, he inherited a retirement complex from his mother, and that’s one of the most expensive parts of retirement, right? Well, he also tried to be well-stocked. He had so much stuff in his home that after having law-enforcement called on him seven times in just five years, people came to help him get rid of his hoard. What they fund was a cockroach, bed bug, and spider-infested home so full that the only way to get around were crawl spaces near the ceiling. After 22 truckloads were removed, it was estimated they were only 60% done.

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A Struggling Artist

At one point, the Chelsea Hotel was a thriving home for artists, hosting everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Marilyn Monroe. In fact, artist Bettina Grossman lived there for decades. She struggled to establish a name for herself, but she kept producing art. That art went nowhere, so she kept it, eventually establishing a hoard so big that she could barely fit into her living space. After filmmaker Sam Bassett found her, he made a film about her, helped her organize her work, and get on her feet. Eventually, the hotel let her hang her artwork up there, but in 2011, when she was in her 80s, the hotel went up for sale. She had to take it all down.

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A Frugal Collector

Alexander Kennedy Miller knew how to budget. He was frugal with his money in most areas… except when it came to his collections. He loved cars and aircraft, collecting a lot of Stutzes, early luxury cars, from bankruptcy auctions. He bought his first car when he was in high school and had amassed about 50 by the time he died in the early 90s. He had also amassed a lot of money: $1 million gold bullion hidden in a wood pile, $75,000 in silver bullion, and about $900,000 in promissory notes, stocks, and shares combined. Despite the wealth, the property was in serious disrepair.

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A Lifelong Collector

Edmund Zygfryd Trebus lived an interesting life. A German born on WWI’s Armistice Day, he was drafted into the German army at the start of WWII. He was captured, though, then served with the Allied forces. He married, had five children, and then became a widower. He eventually stopped throwing things out, and, in addition to his collecting, was soon living in a small area on the ground floor of his home. He had such a large hoard that it spilled out onto his yard. He died in 2002 in a nursing home.

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The Cat Lady

Lots of people joke about becoming a cat lady in their old age. Terry the Cat Lady, however, had an episode of Hoarders so gross it might make you rethink that joke. She had 50 live cats, caged in their own filth. These cats were so sick that only 18 could be saved. She had over 100 dead cats in her freezer that she planned on cremating later, but one had sat so long it had liquefied in the bag she kept it in. Hazmat suits were required to clean her home.

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A Terrible Story

Marie Davis’s story is a sad one. She was an elderly woman who lived with her mentally disabled 54-year-old daughter. Her daughter was found crying outside their home, weeping that her mother was dead but unreachable inside. The 79 year-old-mother had died of heart disease, and she laid on top of her hoard. The pile reached so high there was only a few feet of space between the pile and the ceiling. Authorities had to cut a hole through the roof to reach the woman.

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Nothing Goes to Waste...Even Waste

For fans of the TV show Hoarders, Shanna from season 6 needs no introduction. For those not familiar, you're going to regret this introduction. 

It what is quite possibly the grossest and most bizarre episode of the series, we meet Shanna, who not only hoards her feces but also eats it. Even though viewers couldn't smell what they were seeing, it's clear from the visuals alone that this home is a nightmare. The episode is made worse by the fact that Shanna doesn't seem too particularly disturbed by her unusual culinary habits. By the end of the episode, the house is still uninhabitable and the show's psychologist recommends that Shanna's family put her in assisted living and therapy. 

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Hoarding Tears a Family Apart

Joni, from the TV show Hoarders, isn't the only one affected by her habit--the rest of her family suffers as well. Her two adult sons were raised in the hoard, leading to lifelong issues with anger and drug abuse. Additionally, one of her son's has a daughter that was originally in Joni's custody but was taken away because of the condition of her house. 

 During the cleanup, tensions escalate with Joni's son, Joey, leading the crew to abandon the scene for fear of their own safety. By the end of the episode, Joni is still working to clean the house and her children are nowhere to be seen. 

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A Southern Gothic Come to Life

Sandra is the subject of another iconic episode of Hoarders. We learn that she has hoarded every available inch in a historic mansion in Greensboro, North Carolina. She's in denial about her problem, and she's in denial having to clean up the mess--pretty standard fare for Hoarders. But this story has an interesting twist...

Sandra doesn't actually own the home she's hoarding. After the mansion was foreclosed, a new couple bought the property--and whether it's because they've got large hearts or tiny brains, they just can't seem to kick her out. They try (mostly in vain) to make the cleanup go as smoothly and compassionately as possible for Sandra, but she's having none of it. By the end of the episode, Sandra has lost her home and most of her possessions, thanks to her refusal to participate in the cleanup process. 

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A Bed and Breakfast This Ain't

Like many episodes of Hoarders, Ruthann's story isn't as much about the hoard itself as it is the family dynamics that led to the situation in the first place. After buying her cousin's home, Ruthann made a promise to convert the house into a bed and breakfast. Judging by the massive number of cats and antiques on the property, that promise was clearly never realized. 

Ruthann blames the hoard on her daughter who left her to start her own family, but really, she just seems unable to confront the fact that she brought this misery upon herself. 

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A Nice Guy in a Bad Situation

Some of the funniest episodes of Hoarders are the ones where people are rage-filled and unrepentant about their messes. Some of the saddest episodes are those where nice people are struggling with untreated problems that caused their hoarding. Ricky falls into the second category. 

After his wife unexpectedly left with their four children, Ricky's life took a downward turn until he's at the point of living in a home filled to the brim with paper and other highly flammable garbage. This doesn't seem to phase Ricky, though, as he frequently uses a space heater, as well as candles and incense for "ambiance." By the end of the episode, only a few places in this dangerous home have been cleaned up, but Ricky is making attempts at bettering himself with therapy.   

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A Hoard With a Sinister Cause

In some ways, Shannon's episode of Hoarders is a typical case--the house is so cluttered that it's not longer safe for her or her children to live there, causing them to stay in a shelter instead. However, Shannon claims that the hoard isn't caused by unresolved trauma, family problems, or any of the other common causes. 

Instead, she believes that her home is possessed by demons. While the cleaning crew and show psychologist are personally skeptical of this bizarre revelation, they allow an exorcism to take place, hoping that it will give Shannon some peace of mind. And don't get us started on the cat skull she keeps as a "pet"...

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A High-Rolling Hoarder

It's not every day that a former lieutenant governor turns into a hoarder, but that's exactly what happened to Lonnie Hammargren. The former lieutenant governor (and former Vietnam vet, and former NASA doctor, and former boxing surgeon) lives on a sprawling compound where he has managed to amass a hoard that cost an estimated $10 million. 

But unlike many hoards which are filled with trash and other useless garbage, Hammargren has managed to create what amounts to a flea market in his home--you can find everything from movie props to NASA memorabilia. But despite the fact that he may be hoarding interesting stuff, at the end of the day it's still a hoard, and it's taken a toll on his relationship with his wife and their financial stability.   

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A Hoarder Full of Contradictions

Judy, from season 8 of Hoarders, is a bit of an enigma. She's clearly got a problem with hoarding, but, paradoxically, she also suffers from OCD based around a fear of germs and contamination. Not a great combo--especially when you realize that her cluttered home is filled with mice that Judy can't stand to kill. 

While a germaphobe hoarder might sound like a contradiction, it makes more sense when Judy explains some of her beliefs and rituals--which have no basis in our modern understanding of germs. She covers things with paper when a "dirty" person touches them, she leaves items out in the sun to decontaminate them, and she wears gloves in her home (but walks around barefoot). By the end of the episode, Adult Protective Services has been notified of the situation, and Judy has begun re-hoarding in the rooms that were cleaned up.  

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A Cute, Cuddly Hoard

Some people enjoy and collect teddy bears...but Judy takes it to a whole new level. The cost of her hoard is approaching $1 million, and she doesn't show signs of slowing down. In addition to this, Jackie has it in her mind that people are breaking into her home and stealing her most valuable bears from the collection--an accusation that doesn't seem to have any basis in reality. 

However, this episode of Hoarders had about as happy an ending as you can have on the show--Jackie managed to get rid of three dumpsters full of teddy bears, and by the end of the episode she has space to actually live in her home. 

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An Adult-Themed Hoard

Kevin described himself as a "successful guy" in his episode of Hoarders, but the condition of his home proves he's anything but. In addition to the general junk you find in many hoards, there are also piles of used adult diapers that could put his health seriously at risk. 

But that's not the strangest part of his story. As the cleanup progress, his relatives are shocked to find adult-themed toys and other gear mixed in with the mess. While it does lead to a temporary confrontation, by the end of the episode, his home is completely clean, and he can now work on rebuilding a relationship with his family. 

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Scaling Mt. Hoard

Maggie's home is officially more hoard than house at this point. When the Hoarders camera crew enter the home, they are literally pressed up against the ceiling in some places thanks to the massive piles of junk beneath them. It's not safe for Maggie or her granddaughter, who lived with Maggie most of her childhood. 

While a lot of emotional baggage has to be addressed along with the junk, the crew makes serious progress on Maggie's home. By the end of the show, the home is relatively empty, and everyone's feet are firmly on the floor where they should be. 

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An Apocalyptic Hoard

In season 9 of Hoarders we meet Linda who lives on a completely hoarded 180-acre farm. But Linda's reasons for hanging on to everything are something new for the series--she's preparing for the end of days. 

While Linda might think her hoard is the only thing protecting her from an inevitable collapse of society, others see it differently. However, they have a hard time convincing her when she's been so set in her ways for so long. 

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A Truly Heartbreaking Hoard

In one of the most heartbreaking episodes in Hoarders history, we meet Ray and his brother Tony who live in a historic San Francisco home that has been completely ruined by hoarding. The home is full of junk, and it's starting to develop structural issues as well. Ray is a likable (if not eccentric) sort of guy who takes full blame for the state of their home. 

Unfortunately, about halfway through the episode, Tony dies in their shared home. Somehow, Ray manages to push through the clean up, but even by the end, the home still looks majorly unsafe. It's a sad ending to a sad story. 

A Viral Hoard

Rats are a common occurence on Hoarders, but in Mary's episode, her rodent problem is so bad, the cleanup crew has to test for the presence of the bubonic plague as a safety precaution. She's ground zero for the rat infestation in her neighborhood, and her neighbors are none too pleased. 

The rats have become such a problem that there are literally inches of feces on the floor. The clean up crew brings in an exterminator, but after all is said and done, Mary will still either have to strip the home to its bare bones or bulldoze it entirely. 

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A Match Made in Hoarding Heaven

Dorothy and David, from season 8 of Hoarders, have found love in an unlikely place--garbage. The two readily admit that their shared love of hoarding is what brought them together as a couple. There's a lot to sort through in this mess. 

Thankfully, they've slowly come to realize that their way of living is actually hampering their ability to, well, live. When all was said and done, over 32,000 pounds of trash were removed from the home, and the two are working out their issues in therapy. 

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