Dayton, OH (WHIO/CNN) - A child exploring a vacant home in an Ohio neighborhood makes a gruesome discovery: the mummified remains of a neighbor.
The terrified boy stumbled across the remains inside a home in Dayton.
"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, the boy's mother.
She said her son is adventurous, so when he saw the overgrown house, he went 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," she said.
Instead, police say it was the mummified body of a man, believed to be a 53-year-old man. He'd been hanging in a closet for 5 years.
"it is very unique to find mummified remains like this, five years old," said Kent Harshbarger, the Montgomery County, Ohio Coroner.
He 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," Harshbarger said.
The house was purchased in October of 2009, and the coroner say, based on some evidence found inside, he died shortly after that. Taxes have never been paid on the home, and the lawn was never cut. Most neighbors had never even seen him.
"I didn't realize there was anybody in the house," said Alberta Ballard, a neighbor.
Ballard has lived directly across the street for 40 years, and is stunned by the discovery. She says she never saw anyone coming or going. She's 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."
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."
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.