Police in New Hampshire are investigating the death of an elderly woman whose body was discovered when the woman’s adult son had a pizza delivered to their home.
The New Hampshire Union Leader reported that the woman, identified by neighbors as Florence Cotter, of Salem, was found dead around 3 p.m. Wednesday. Her son, Gary Cotter, had to be removed from the home through a hole that first responders busted through an exterior wall.
Salem police Capt. Joel Dolan told the Union Leader that a pizza delivery man called police for a welfare check after he attempted to deliver a pizza and Gary Cotter asked him to slide the pizza in through a window instead of approaching the door. Dolan told the newspaper that the delivery man could see hoarding conditions inside the home -- and Florence Cotter’s body lying on the floor.
The odor of decay could also be detected near the home Wednesday, the Union Leader said.
A neighbor, Pam Avallone, told the newspaper her daughter had been home when police arrived and had watched as officers with a megaphone tried for two hours to get Gary Cotter to leave the house.
First responders ultimately busted through the wall below a window.
“They had a really hard time getting him out,” Avallone told the newspaper.
Avallone said she had not seen Florence Cotter for a couple of years. Other neighbors told the Eagle-Tribune in North Andover, Massachusetts, that they has seen her outside the home earlier this year.
“We thought we saw her earlier this summer on our way to the beach,” Tony Difruscia told the Eagle-Tribune. “It was a hot day and we remember questioning why an older woman like that was outside weeding.”
Another neighbor, Joe Bolis, told the Union Leader that he had been delivering the Cotters’ mail and mowing their lawn for a while. He said he had also been bringing groceries to Gary Cotter through a window for about a year because Cotter had an infection in his legs.
“He’s been sick for a while,” Bolis, 80, said.
He said Florence Cotter, who was in her 80s, suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.
The death investigation is being conducted by the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office in conjunction with the state police’s Major Crime Unit and the Salem Police Department, a statement on the attorney general’s website said.