The house is tiny, hidden on its lot by a profusion of untrimmed hedges. Vines creep over the windows and under eaves. On the door is a citation from the City of Dayton, demanding that the grass be cut. Pale green paneling might once have been a rich turquoise, but for time and the fact that 217 S. Harbine Avenue lies abandoned and empty. Almost empty, that is.
Last weekend, a 12-year-old boy entered the mysterious little dwelling in search of adventure and he found it. In a closet, preserved for about five years, a mummified body hung by a belt. He reported the discovery to his mother, and thereby solved a disappearance that no-one, it seems, had even noticed.
Edward Brunton, who would now be 53, was homeless for years, say acquaintances in Dayton, Ohio. According to the coroner's office, he bought the house with $10,000 inherited when his mother died in 2009, and likely hung himself there not long after. The last electric bill was paid that fall. The cold and the dark dried him out and preserved him. He had no friends and no job, and was estranged from his family. No-one went looking for him until Michelle McGrath, investigating her son's crazy story.
"Nothing seemed out of the ordinary," she said, until the room with the closet. "When I crossed the threshold of the room, is when I smelled it."