DAYTON, Ohio - A child exploring a vacant home in an Ohio neighborhood makes a gruesome discovery. The terrified boy stumbled across the homeowner's mummified remains.
"My son came home and said he said to me that he had gone into an abandoned house and he found a body. And I said, 'Wait what?"' said Michelle McGrath.
Michelle McGrath says her 12-year-old son is adventurous. So when he saw this overgrown house on Harbine in Dayton, he ventured inside. But what he saw may have scarred him for life.
"When he first came across it, he thought it was a dummy, or a mannequin or something," said McGrath.
It was the mummified body of a man, believed to be 53-year-old Edward Brunton. He'd been hanging in a closet for five years.
"It is very unique to find mummified remains like this, 5-years-old," said Coroner Kent Harshbarger.
Harshbarger was called to the scene and police opened an investigation.
"He was found suspended from the neck still from a belt in the closet. So it appears to be a suicide," he said.
Brunton bought the house in October 2009 and the coroner says, based on some evidence found inside, he died shortly after that. Taxes have never been paid, the lawn has never been cut, and most neighbors had never even seen him.
"I didn't realize there was anybody in the house," said neighbor Alberta Ballard.
Ballard has lived directly across the street for 40 years and is stunned by the discovery.
"There was no activity. No one coming and going. It looks just like it does now. Yes, I was shocked," she said.
Ballard has complained to the city, which has been mowing the lawn from time to time. McGrath said people she talked to did smell something years ago.
"One of them said to me. I smelled something one day, but I thought something crawled and died underneath the shed," said McGrath.
She says it's a sad commentary on the community that someone could be dead for so long without anyone ever noticing.
"I think it's disturbing that the neighbors didn't smell it, they didn't call, that people aren't more involved in their neighborhood," she said.
Officials say the victim does have a brother in the area, but that he hasn't seen him since 2008. Even though the coroner's office believes this was a suicide, police are still investigating to make sure.