Police Missed Alice Klee, 68, When They Came Looking; Landlord Found Her

NEW MILFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — It took two months for the remains of a suspected hoarder to be found under all the garbage in her northern New Jersey home.

Police in New Milford described 68-year-old Alice Klee’s apartment as a sad situation, with cat urine, feces, garbage and other items piled wall to wall.

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Neighbors said they hadn’t seen her since early February. Authorities went to her home and never found her, leading to a missing persons report.

It wasn’t until Klee’s landlord began cleaning out her unit that her partially mummified body was discovered under her own garbage and clothes.

Relatives said she was a hoarder.

Robert Kornhaber treats the disorder from his practice in Fort Lee and said it’s often hard for neighbors and relatives to help.

“Hoarding is an obsessive-compulsive disorder,” Dr. Kornhaber told WCBS 880’s Levon Putney on Wednesday.

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The Bergen County woman lived alone and was reported missing after she failed to pay her February rent.

“Checking on them will not change anything. Hoarders are very resistant to simply advice or recommendation,” Kornhaber told Putney. “Nine times out of 10, I say to the person ‘please have the hoarder call me.’ They never call.”

Kornhaber said hoarders typically do not reach out for help until the condition puts their life at risk.

“Many people who go for help are forced to by health officials, fire departments,” Kornhaber said. “In almost all cases, it takes the act of intervention of a therapist or hoarding specialist who actually really has to come by and visit to get results.”

Klee died of cardiac arrest, police said.

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