A curious Ohio boy who sneaked into an abandoned house over the weekend discovered a mummified corpse hanging inside a closet, unnoticed for nearly five years, officials said.
The body of Edward Brunton, 53, had a belt around his neck, and he likely died by suicide in his rundown home in the city of Dayton, said Ken Betz, director for the coroner's office in Montgomery County in southwestern Ohio.
"I've been around a long time, but this is the first time we've had (a mummified body) indoors for that many years," Betz said.
Authorities used personal identification documents, a physical description from Brunton's brother and other records to identify the body, Betz said.
Family members and neighbours said that after years of being homeless Brunton inherited some money from his mother in 2009 and bought the tiny house for $10,000 cash, Betz said. He likely killed himself shortly after, Betz said.
Because he died in the winter and inside a dark closet, Brunton's body tissue dried out and was preserved. No one went looking for Brunton, who was estranged from his family, Betz said, adding that Brunton did not know his neighbors and had no known work obligations.
"This is kind of like the perfect storm in the sense that neighbors were unaware, he just purchased the home, he was a street guy," Betz said.
He would not confirm press reports that said the adventurous 12-year-old boy thought the body he found was a dummy and told his mother, who alerted authorities.
Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.