The Cape Coral house on SE 19th Lane had rusted iron gates on each window and every entrance. Four dead-bolts were chained at the front door.
He arrived the next morning to evaluate his purchase, trim the hedges and mow the lawn. What he found inside was a body.
“The inside was a mess,” Wilson said. “It looked like (someone) was packing to move. There were a lot of boxes, some pictures of children on the fridge.”
Authorities told him the most recent piece of mail was from November of 2011 and unpaid taxes went back three years. The corpse was on the floor of the master bedroom next to the bed. Longtime neighbors say an older woman from Miami last lived at the home with her sister, but they hadn’t seen or heard from her for several years.
Some thought she moved, others said she just disappeared. Outside, the grass grew long and the community speculated. Inside, Wilson said all that remained were bones, skin and the smell of remains. In the living room was a bird cage and piles of feces.
“You couldn’t tell who it was,” Wilson said. “You couldn’t tell if it was a male or a female … it’s disappointing and a sad thing that nobody cared enough to check.”
The Cape Coral Police Department responded to the scene Wednesday afternoon to conduct a death investigation. Officers cordoned the property with yellow caution tape. At dusk, one officer remained parked out front.
“It’s sad about the whole thing,” said Bill Harrigan, who lives across the street. “Nobody ever checked on her.”
Wednesday night, residents stood outside their homes and watched law enforcement come and go along the two-lane road.
“I didn’t know them,” said Liz Palma, 55, of Cape Coral. “It’s very strange, all those bars on the house. I never smelled anything … that’s just freaky. I’m freaked out.”
Next-door neighbor Gary Oben Jr., 30, said he used to park his van in the driveway because no one was ever around. The woman was nice, but reclusive and didn’t speak much English. He saw her a handful of times in a decade. She got the mail and she watered the lawn and liked his dogs.
The house was built in 2007 and previously owned by Carmen Garcia-Viso.
“I had a hunch,” Oben said. “Either it was a grow house or there was a dead lady in there.”