YPSILANTI TOWNSHIP, Mich. (Detroit Free Press) - It was a 10-year-old's home, but the house on Maplewood in Ypsilanti Township wasn't fit for human habitation.
The house is empty now, but until a neighbor complained last month, it appears to have been fit for an episode of the A&E show "Hoarders."
The conditions in the house are captured in photos taken by township officials, who are awaiting a court hearing in their effort to recoup the estimated $5,000-$7,000 cleanup cost. The home is one of a number of squalid houses that the township is pursuing court action against or investigating.
It's unclear what happened to the woman who lived in the house and her daughter, although township attorney Doug Winters said he told township officials to notify children's services. A call the Free Press placed to Washtenaw County Children's Services was not returned.
(Look at more photos at the Detroit Free Press)
The woman could face animal-cruelty charges related to several pets found in the home.
Mounds of filth can be seen throughout the home. There's mold in the basement. Containers filled with what is believed to be urine sit on a table. Used toilet paper is piled on a bathroom sink. Human waste sits in the bathtub. Flies can be seen in some pictures, and officials and neighbors tell of a steady stream of rats and mice traveling in and out of the house.
But next-door neighbor Virginia Swope said it was the odor that prompted her husband to report the situation.
"It smelled like death. It was just awful. ... My husband just couldn't take that smell any more," she said. "For a 10-year-old to live like that, I would have to say it's criminal."
Swope described a mother and daughter who kept to themselves. She said the house was generally kept closed up tight, except on the hottest days, when the mother would crack open her daughter's bedroom window.
Sidney Stone of Ypsilanti Township owns the house, but declined to say why conditions were allowed to deteriorate to such an extent. It was Stone's daughter and granddaughter who were living in the house.
"This is a personal family matter, and it's no business of anybody else's," he said.
Winters said Stone claimed not to be aware of the conditions.
Swope said Stone could be seen stopping by the house from time to time. Swope said she and her husband delayed contacting authorities about the house because of a previous dispute with Stone, who used to live there.
She noted that water to the house had been shut off for a year and a half and asked why that had not drawn notice from water officials.
Ypsilanti Community Utilities Authority Director Larry Thomas said the water was shut off for nonpayment, and no one connected with the house ever questioned it or called to ask for assistance. He said the house appeared vacant to Utilities Authority workers.
The house on Maplewood is not the only house in the township where deplorable conditions exist. The township plans to conduct another inspection on a house on Clarita this week before a court hearing Thursday. Pictures from inside that home show conditions similar to the ones in the house on Maplewood.
Winters said it's bothersome that, in both instances, neighbors were aware of bad conditions but hesitated to report them.
"If you see something, say something, and then we'll do something," he said, pointing out that the conditions in both homes were horrible. "You can't find the right adjective to describe these homes."