A Joliet man says he feared his mother's hoarding would one day factor into her death. It was a battle she'd fought for roughly 20 years, he said, a byproduct of her childhood in World War II Germany.
"She had nothing," Bill Scheibe said Wednesday of his mother. "Soap was considered a commodity at the time. ... I think it was a case, for her, it was finding paper towels, like 10 for a penny. She bought the things, she stockpiled the things that nobody would ever really need or care about."
A day earlier, firefighters and police discovered the body of 72-year-old Margareta Scheibe inside her Worth home after a reported three days of digging through piled-up garbage.
She was found beneath about a foot of debris just outside the family room of her home, on the 10800 block of Oak Park Avenue, said police chief Martin Knolmayer. The trash spilled outside, with about a dozen bags of rubbish in a side yard. Two cars parked outside were also full of trash.
Until the past weekend, Bill Scheibe said he'd gone 20 years without stepping inside his boyhood home but stopped by to check on his mom after she dropped out of sight.
The mounds of trash stopped him in his tracks, so he turned to police. Officers reportedly searched the home in hazardous materials suits because of the amount of garbage and unbearable stench.
"I don't know what was inside the house," said neighbor William Pallardy. "I don't know her that well, but it was pretty nasty."
Authorities said Scheibe may have been dead in her home for about a month. An autopsy revealed the woman died of a heart attack.
Bill Scheibe said he'd tried repeatedly over the years to help his mother, to no avail.
"If I had a dollar for every time I discussed this issue with her, tried to work with her on this situation, I could buy your TV station," he said. "Anybody who deals with addiction [knows that] you can't help somebody who doesn't want to get helped."
Bill Scheibe said things really went downhill when his father died on Christmas Eve 16 years ago and wants the public to know his mother was a good person.
"She went to church every week, every day a lot of times. She wasn't this evil person. She just had a problem and she didn't know the way out," her son said.
Bill Scheibe said his older brother lived with their mom but because of the scope of the hoarding couldn't keep track of her decline. He said they lived in separate parts of the bi-level home.