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Fire Kills 1, Badly Burns Another In Extreme Hoarding Intervention Gone Awry

GREENWICH, Conn. (CBSNewYork) -- An extreme hoarding situation ended in extreme sadness on Tuesday. It may have been a final act of defiance that killed a man and seriously injured his sick mother.

The run-down home has been an eyesore for years, attracting complaints from neighbors and the city of Greenwich. Now, the woman who owns it is badly burned and her 42-year-old son is dead, CBS 2's Lou Young reported.

The fire started inside a home jammed with stacks of personal possessions -- a hoarder's den turned death trap.

"Smoke pouring out of the house and we said there's someone still inside, and about five or six minutes later they took the second person out in an ambulance over there," neighbor Richard Meehan said.

"The fire department has determined it was intentionally set," Greenwich Police Lt. Craig Gray said.

An intervention was apparently already underway in connection with the clutter inside.  A dumpster on site was supposed to be used to house the many belongings the occupants had amassed. The fire, apparently set by the son, broke out just hours before state social workers were supposed to arrive, police said.

"The lady used to work for the Board of Education in Greenwich and then she got sick and basically her son was taking care of her.

It was a slow decline," neighbor John Pardo said.

The man of the house -- a retired Greenwich cop -- died in the 1980s. Things got especially bad in the past five years, neighbors said, but the occupants, Dean Verboven and his 69-year-old mother, Barbara, were well-liked.

"I know this boy since he was 8 years old and they are … they are sweet people, nice people," Gladys Pardo said.

But he is now dead and she is in critical condition, getting treated at Bridgeport Medical Center for severe burns.

One neighbor said Barbara Verboven spent almost all her time in a single room of the house, eating and sleeping in a room with a television on 24 hours a day.

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