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City deems community health hazard after woman found dead in rat-infested hoarding house

Peoria death investigation rats infestation
Posted at 4:06 PM, Sep 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-29 01:20:31-04

PEORIA, AZ — A woman was found dead in her home last weekend in Peoria, and officials have said that the conditions of her home were so bad that rats and other rodents have taken over the home and neighborhood, leading authorities to consider it a health hazard.

Officials deemed the house uninhabitable and hired a professional company to help remove the rats.

The woman was 66 years old and her death is not considered to be suspicious at this time, police said. She has not been identified.

Police conducted a welfare check at the home on Thursday, Sept. 23, after neighbors complained about a bad smell and said rats were seen going in and out of the house. There, officers found "severe hoarding" conditions, a "significant amount of rodents," and the woman's body.

The Peoria Police Department's Special Assignment Unit, which uses self-contained breathing devices and hazardous materials suits, was called in to help navigate the house and remove the woman's body, which was badly decomposed, a news release said. A drone was also used to investigate the home.

Paramedics have reportedly made numerous calls to the woman's home to assist her, police said.

To address the rats and rodents, the City of Peoria said they have hired a professional company that specializes in biohazard cleanup and pest removal. The city has also declared the home as "do not occupy."

"The city will continue to monitor the progress of the cleanup and...work to ensure the health and safety of its residents," a city spokesperson said in a statement.

The Arizona Humane Society and another rat rescue went to the home on Tuesday morning to assist with trapping the rodents but were denied access to the home and property, according to Kelsey Dickerson, spokesperson for AHS.

One rat was rescued, she said.

She said the rats themselves are pet rats, not wild rats, and will likely not be able to survive without the help of humans. She said the city has denied both organizations access to the property, which limits any help they are able to provide.

Anyone who happens to trap the rats is asked to contact AHS, she said.