Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Son and Mother Die, Get Eaten By Cats

This story is so tragic. Cops in Albion, Pa. showed up to a home on Saturday only to find the bodies of Herbert and Jane Walden surrounded by filth and hungry cats feeding on a corpse.
Herbert Walden was a retired and well-liked schoolteacher. He shopped at the Albion Shurfine. When a clerk at the store's pharmacy realized Walden had not come in for his prescription, someone at the store suggested the police check on him. Officers went to the house, at the top of a long grass drive off Keepville Road in Conneaut Township, at about 8 p.m. Saturday. They found Herbert Walden, who was in his 70s, on the living room floor. Investigators believe he died in a chair -- a heart attack, Erie County Deputy Coroner Korac Timon suspects -- and, at some point in the next week, fell to the floor. At least one of the cats had begun eating Walden's foot, Timon said. Jane Walden, 94, used a walker. She depended on her son's care, Timon said. She likely died of dehydration, he said: The home had no running water, the windows were closed, and the rooms held so much trash -- plastic jugs, cat-food tins and bags of waste, stacked nearly to the ceiling in places -- that she could not get out of the house. "There are rooms in there that you can't move through," said Joe Grisanti, the executive director of the Humane Society of Northwest Pennsylvania. "It's that bad." Grisanti and three animal-welfare officers spent three hours in the house Tuesday. They rescued a dozen cats. They found four more dead in the basement, and another outside. They also found a dead dog. "We see these environments," Grisanti said. "But this is indescribable. This is as bad as anything I have ever seen." The home did not have a working toilet, Grisanti said. Instead, the Waldens used buckets. They filled the tub and lined the hallway, he said. Cat feces covered the beds. Opened food tins cluttered every room, Grisanti said. "If a picture is worth a thousand words, a picture in there is worth about 8 million," said Rob Lewis, who helped snare several cats. Humane Society officers had been to the home before, said Merle Wolfgang, the organization's chief investigating officer. On that visit, about 10 years ago, Herbert Walden was ordered to improve the conditions his animals lived in, Wolfgang said. For a time, he did. Walden was dead for more than a week before police found him, Timon said. His mother likely died sometime Thursday or Friday.

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