EAST VILLAGE — A man neighbors said was known for hoarding was found dead in his apartment Sunday night after a 911 caller reported a foul odor that residents said they had been smelling for days, police said.
The 57-year-old man, whose identity has not been released, was found face-up in his apartment at 89 E. Second St. shortly after a foul odor was reported around 10:12 p.m., police said.
One neighbor said she had first noticed the odor two days ago and chalked it up to a mouse infestation. But the stench became more unbearable with each day, getting stronger as she approached the first floor.
“At first I thought it was dead mouse, because it was awful,” said Betsy Ramos, who lives several floors above the apartment where the body was found. “But then the smell was getting so strong."
Ramos said she had left for Coney Island with her mother and daughter Sunday afternoon and noticed the stench grew heavier as they approached the first floor.
"When we were leaving yesterday, we thought, ‘Oh my god, the smell is getting stronger as we’re going down,'" she said.
Around 10 p.m. Sunday, an employee of the building's super told Ramos he suspected a dead body was in the apartment and planned to call the police. Officers arrived shortly afterwards, she said.
The man was often spotted by neighbors lugging boxes and bags into his apartment, leading them to believe he had a hoarding habit, according to Ramos and other neighbors.
“He was always carrying a package or something…He was a hoarder,” Ramos said, adding that she didn’t know the man’s name. “You couldn’t really tell what was in [the packages] because they were always closed.”
Neighbors described the man as polite but said he rarely interacted with anyone else in the building beyond the occasional “hello” and “goodbye.”
“He was very quiet,” said a neighbor named Melissa, who declined to give her last name. “I would always offer to help hold the door for him when he came in with his boxes.”
Police said the man’s body showed no signs of trauma, though the medical examiner has yet to determine a cause of death. The NYPD could not immediately confirm any details about the apartment's condition.
Patrons of the neighboring eatery Spiegel had reportedly complained of the odor wafting into the cafe on Sunday, according to the New York Daily News, which first reported the death.
A cafe employee told DNAinfo she was not present at the time and was unable to comment.