The Collyer Brothers.

     In 1942, the Collyer brothers made the newspapers. They had defaulted on the mortgage on their home and the bank came knocking on the door.   The Bowery Savings Bank began eviction procedures and a workcrew was sent over to clean up the yard.  Langley  Collyer started screaming at the workers and the police  had to be called in.  The cops ended up smashing down  the front door, only to encounter a wall of junk piled up to keep people out.  Silently, Langley wrote out a  check for $6,700 and paid off the mortgage in full.  He ordered everyone off of his premises and that was  the last that the world had heard of the Collyer brothers.
     That was until Friday, March 21, 1947 when a man named Charles Smith called police headquarters at 10 A. M. claiming “There's a dead man in the premises at 2078 Fifth Avenue”.  A patrolman was dispatched to the scene, but he couldn't get into the building.  There was no doorbell or  phone.  The doors to the mansion were locked.  The  basement windows were broken, but protected by iron grillwork.  An emergency squad of seven men had to be called in.  The entranceway was blocked by a wall of old newspapers,  folding beds, one half of a sewing machine, folding chairs, boxes, part of a wine press, and many other  pieces of junk. It was clear that the police were not getting through the front door easily…
     The policemen decided upon another approach.  They got a ladder and threw it against the building.  They attempted to go through the middle second floor window instead.  Well, they were out of luck.  The brothers had piled even more packages and bundles of old newspapers  behind the window opening.  The police started to pull all of the junk out and throw it down to the street below.  Out came countless old newspapers, empty cardboard boxes that were tied with rope, the frame ofa baby carriage, a rake, two umbrellas tied together, and other stuff.
    Once some of the material was cleared away from the window, a patrolman was able to step inside.  Using a portable light, he was able to shove aside more bundles of rubbish and found Homer Collyer sitting on the floor  with his head between his knees. The tiny old manes  long and matted gray hair reached down to his  shoulders.  He was only clad in an old, ragged blue-and-white bathrobe.  As the crowd outside the mansion swelled to over 600 people, everyone started to wonder where Langley  was.  Could he be wandering around the city on  errands?  Could he still be in the house in hiding?  Was  he the one that called in the tip to the police?  No one was really sure.
     The following Monday the police began their search of the house for the missing brother.  Out came more junk – gas chandeliers, the folding top of a horse drawn  carriage, a rusted bicycle, three dressmaking dummies, a saw horse, a doll carriage, a rusted bed spring, a kerosene stove, a checkerboard, a child's chair, countless old newspapers, pinup girl photos, and so on. The next day the police returned and pulled out an intricate potato peeler, a beaded lampshade, the chassis of an old car, children's toys, and over six tons of newspapers, magazines, and wood. On the third day even more stuff was taken out of the house.  Anything deemed worthless was just tossed out  the window to the ground below.  Items of value were placed in storage. On the fourth day the police continued their removal of  junk from the home.  In the search for Langley, they found an assortment of guns and ammunition.  Near thelocation that Homer died, an assortment of bankbooks was discovered for a total worth of just $3,007.00.
      Monday came around and, again, the police removed more junk from the home.  This included over 3,000  books, plenty of outdated phone books, a horse's  jawbone, a Steinway piano, a primitive X-ray machine, and more bundles of newspapers.  By the end of the day a total of over nineteen tons of junk had been removed from the first floor of the house alone!  And the search continued.  Every day more stuff was taken from the home.  Old medical equipment, human  medical specimens, a wide variety of musical instruments, and (of course) more bundles of old newspapers.
     Day after day, more and more junk was removed from the home.  By Monday, April 7th, 136 tons of essentially worthless garbage had been taken from the house.  On Tuesday April 8, 1947 the body of Langley Collyer was finally located.  Believe it or not, he was  less than ten feet from where his brother Homer had died.  His body was partly decomposed and was being gnawed on by a big ugly rat. A suitcase, three metal bread boxes, and – you guessed it – bundles of newspapers were covering his body.
     In the end, investigators concluded that Langley was asphyxiated after one of his booby traps collapsed down on him.  They believe that he was crawling through the tunnel-like maze in an effort to bring food to  his paralyzed and blind brother Homer.   With no one to feed him, Homer essentially starved to death.
     The brothers estate was valued at $91,000 in real estate and $20,000 in personal property.  What was  salvageable from the 136 tons of junk that had been collected sold for less than $2000 at auction.   Their once beautiful mansion was condemned, torn down, and is now a parking lot.

     Now we have just one unanswered question.  What  was the deal with all of those newspapers?  Langley provided an answer in a 1942 New York Herald Tribune interview.  “I am saving newspapers for  Homer, so that when he regains his sight he can catch  up on the news.”