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Investigation into Parma Heights man's hoarding death leads to discovery of mother's body in storage unit

A Parma Heights man died after being trapped inside his home. Two months later, his mother's remains were found inside a Brook Park storage unit.

PARMA HEIGHTS, Ohio — Police in Parma Heights are investigating after they found the body of a man in his 70s trapped under boxes, magazines, and books inside his own home. That investigation then led to the discovery of his dead mother inside a storage unit. 

Robert Ellzey was found dead inside his home on Manorford Drive in Parma Heights in March, after neighbors called for a welfare check. Police tell 3News they had been to Ellzey's house before because of hoarding, but he was unresponsive when they found him.

"The medical examiner's office did determine that that (Ellzey's death) was due to positional asphyxia," said Parma Heights police detective Adam Sloan.

Detective Sloan told 3News that a lot of the belongings in the home fell on Ellzey and trapped him inside the home, which ultimately led to his death.

"You had to crawl over piles of Robert's belongings to get through the house, there wasn't a straight path," said Sloan.

During the investigation by police, neighbors notified them of Robert's mother, Lois, and told them that she had died several years ago. 

However, according to police, there was no record of Lois Ellzey's death.

Investigators found evidence that social security and retirement funds were being deposited into a bank account, and began to search for Robert's mother. Police searched a storage unit belonging to Robert, but could not find his mother.

In May, the Brook Park Police Department was notified that someone found skeletal remains inside a storage unit. The unit had once belonged to Robert Ellzey, but was auctioned off during a sale. The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner determined that the skeletal remains were those of Lois Ellzey, who was believed to be in her 90s. 

"In speaking with the medical examiner's office, they did determine that it was approximately 2012 that she had passed away," said Sloan.

According to the Parma Heights Police Department, it's unclear precisely when, where, and how Lois Ellzey died.

Tahira Wilson, a mental health case manager at Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging, told 3News that they see a lot of isolation in the older population that can cause separation issues.

"Separation seems to be hard and then a lot of times when you begin to hoard you begin to isolate," said Wilson.

The Parma Heights Police Department is continuing to investigate the case, while the Brook Park Police Department's investigation into the skeletal remains found in the storage unit is also ongoing.

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