Perhaps the two most famous hoarders of all time are the extremely reclusive Collyer brothers, Homer and Langley - their unfortunate death in 1947 shot them into the spotlight.

HoarderLangley, the younger of the two brothers, looked after his eventually blind and paralyzed arthritis ridden brother durnign daylight hours and roamed New York by night to collect more items to stuff into their Manhattan brownstone.

Both brothers attended Columbia University, Homer obtained a degree in admiralty law, while Langley is said to have received a degree in engineeringand in his later years made attempts at being an inventor, Langley played concert-level piano.

Over the years, both brothers' eccentricities intensified, Langley tinkered with various inventions, such as a device to vacuum the insides of pianos and a Model T Ford adapted to generate electricity. Rumours of their vast wealth made them a target for robbers and prisoners in their own home and as the brothers' fears increased, so did their eccentricities.

They boarded up the windows, and Langley set about using his engineering skills to set up booby traps. Due to their failure to pay the bills, their telephone service was disconnected in 1917, electricity, water, and gas were turned off in 1928.

On March 21, 1947, an anonymous tipster phoned the 122nd Police Precinct and insisted there was a dead body in the house. A patrol officer was dispatched, but had a difficult time getting into the house at first, noting however that an awful odor was emanating from somewhere within the building.

After breaking into the locked property and crawling through the tunnels after two hours, Homer Collyer was found dead, however, the medical examiner said he had been dead for no more than ten hours; consequently, Homer could not have been the source of the stench wafting from the house. Foul play was ruled out: Homer had died from the combined effects of malnutrition, dehydration, and cardiac arrest. Langley was nowhere to be found. In their quest to find Langley, the police began searching the house, an arduous task that required them to remove the large quantity of amassed junk

On March 30, false rumors circulated that Langley had been seen aboard a bus heading for Atlantic City causing a police manhunt stretched nine states, On April 8, 1947, workman Artie Matthews found the body of Langley Collyer just ten feet from where Homer had died. His partially decomposed body was being eaten by rats. A suitcase and three huge bundles of newspapers covered his body.

Langley had been crawling through their newspaper tunnel to bring food to his paralyzed brother when one of his own booby traps fell down and crushed him.

Homer, blind and paralyzed, starved to death several days later. The stench detected on the street had been emanating from Langley, the younger brother.

In total, Police and workmen removed 130 tons of garbage from the Collyer brownstone - the cumulative estate of the Collyer brothers was valued at $91,000 which equates to about $1,084,546 as of 2013.


If you have any questions that have not been covered here or elsewhere on the site, please free to contact us.


Call us on 0800 389 7819 or email for more info.

We offer a full range of environmental services to both business and individuals throughout the whole of the UK


Share This Page: