You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

Court orders cleanup of Ypsilanti Township hoarder's condo

By Tom Perkins

A Washtenaw County Circuit Court judge has ordered the cleanup of an Ypsilanti Township condominium littered with raw meat — among other debris, including dead rodents — within 21 days.

In a verified petition filed with the court, township attorneys allege Wingate Park condominium owner Elmer Sheldon is hoarding the meat. Sheldon told township building inspectors he is homeless and no longer lives in the condo.

Township officials said Sheldon has owned around eight homes in the township at one time, and all required some form of nuisance abatement action because of unsanitary or blighted conditions. One home at 1810 George St. had to be demolished.

Township attorney Dennis McLain wrote in the petition that the meat has caused a severe infestation of rodents, fleas, flies and cockroaches that professional pest control companies haven’t been able to address.

Upon inspecting the property at the end of August, township officials found rotting meat in plastic bags, decaying animals, animal feces, money strewn throughout the debris, around 30 bicycles, "unknown soft items" in various states of decay, mold and even raw chicken stuffed in the mailbox. Because their skin felt like it was being bit by tiny insects, building officials wore disposable, protective outerwear and respirators while inspecting the home.


A condominium building where an Ypsilanti Township man hoarded raw meat.

Tom Perkins | For

The Wingate Park Condominium Association and its resident agent, Pasco Property Management, have done nothing beyond writing Sheldon a letter about the situation and calling an exterminator, McLain wrote in the verified petition.

The township contends the Wingate Association has failed to protect the health and welfare of its residents, as is required in its articles of incorporation.

Judge Timothy Connors entered a preliminary injunction prohibiting the property's occupancy and ordering the Wingate Association and Pasco to remediate the problem by Sept. 27. A review hearing is scheduled for Oct. 6.

Connors court ordered remediation to be performed by a professional catastrophe clean up team and is requiring the removal of any contaminated flooring, drywall, appliances, fixtures and furniture. Wingate and Pasco will be responsible for the initial cost, which will then be passed on to Sheldon. If Sheldon doesn't pay, a lien will be placed on the property.

Township officials were first alerted to the residence by the Washtenaw County Health Department in late June. Building inspectors found the property locked and no one home, but could smell what they said they recognized as animal urine and mold.

The garage ceiling was also partially collapsed, which led to water damage, and officials tagged the condominium and garage, which are at 1593 Wingate, as unfit for occupancy. The condominium unit sits above four garages used by owners of other condos in the same building.

When building officials visited the condominium a month later, they found it still stunk and remained locked, but on Aug. 24 a neighbor living in the building sent township building inspectors evidence of the conditions inside.

Mike Radzik, the township's director of the office of community standards, confirmed with Ann Arbor Critter Control that the company had visited Sheldon’s condo seven times between late May and late July and had been unable to abate the pest infestation due to the amount of food and raw meat stored there.

Building officials obtained an administrative search warrant on Aug. 25 and found “appalling” and “just plain horrific” contamination. Radzik added that power and electricity has been off at the property since 2003.

"Words alone cannot adequately describe the horrible conditions found inside this condominium, which now tops the list of 'the worst we've ever seen,' " Radzik said. "The neighbors have been subjected to an unbearable odor and rodent infestation caused by neglect and harmful behavior."



Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : 9:10 p.m.

DiD I reads this correct Electricity has been cut OFf since 2003 under the"meat' had no change>On the other hand when was the rent.condo payed or is the mortgage behind or what ????? So what is the story here? no power since 2003....kindly send a follow -up and also the follow the money> was the landlord payed all this years? or is the teneate behind in monthly payments? really like to know?


Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 1:58 p.m.

Mayalynn, how do you know the man is mental ill? Are you a trained psychologist? If so, how can you suggest he is without having talked to the man? You do realize that you are potentialing opening yourself up to libel don't you? To label a person as being mentally ill when you either lack the credentials and/or evidence is an amazing presumptuous act on your part. Waxing self-righteous, Maya and THe Picker, irritates more than helps this situation. You both are wrong. The photos are a legitimate part of news reporting. War photos are far worse than this,, yet I see no one leftist complaining about those. Why? Because it gives the folks at home a better idea of what is going on. Those photos showed just appalling the condition of the condo was. I suppose Tom could practice his literary skills by trying to describe the condo, but this is a daily with limited space and not the New York Times.

Tom Perkins

Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 3:01 p.m.

Read the fourth and fifth paragraphs.

Life in Ypsi

Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 1:44 p.m.

I think the photos and story are okay. His name should have been left out of the story though.


Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 1:39 p.m.

I can see the need for the reporter to provide some photographic documentation of the dangerous chaos contained within this condominium, but there should be some recognition of Mr. Sheldon's right to privacy as well. The end result would be a balance of the two. These photographs and their number are over the top. The treatment of this story appears to have sensationalized this man's unfortunate situation. One, perhaps two, photographs would have been sufficient.

Ypsi Resident

Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 1:01 p.m.

Hey stay stupid will ya? Here's a tip... Delivering your Ypsi Focus issues to my front lawn for free with articles about the township, not the city, and all negative, home values, prostitution, metal thieves, is not a way to get people to subscribe. So dumb and pejorative, it's no wonder your paper went south and your employees are looking for other jobs. I don't expect you to get better, so keep it up and let's be done with you once and for all. - a successful Ypsilanti home owner and tax payer


Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 11:49 a.m.

The photos are appropriate to show the scope of the problem. Without the photographic evidence, the usual apologists would be all over this topic insisting that the authorities were making a mountain out of a molehill and that this was yet another case of some poor innocent being persecuted by the man.


Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 11:38 a.m.

Omg...I will have to do some checking but I believe we owned a unit in this building years ago. I do remember we had huge problems with the renters of this adjoining condo and had to call WCSD many times. I am pretty certain Elmer was the owner of this unit then and was not cooperative at all..we are talking the late 90's. looks like this has been going on for over a decade. All I can say is I'm not surprised, funny thing the HOA was aware back then of how poorly the unit was managed by the owner then and this is still going on? All I can say is Wow!

AnnArbor Anonymous

Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 12:47 a.m.

This house has NOTHING on mine!


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 8:04 p.m.

I actually moved into a building very near this man just over a month ago and while I am not worried about the mice or roaches invading my home (I own a sizeable lizard), I do worry about the health and safety of my neighbors. It seems very clear to me that this man is suffering from mental illness and being an individual who also has dealt with mental it makes me sad to think that he hasn't received any assistance. I feel for him, I really do and I hope that somewhere along the way he gets the help he so desperately needs.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 7:23 p.m.

I don't understand why the interior of this obviously sick man needed to be posted for everyone to see. This man is in trouble and needs serious help.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 7:42 p.m.

I meant the interior of the home...

dading dont delete me bro

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 6:31 p.m.

i see a can of air fresher on the counter in the first slide hmmmm.

dading dont delete me bro

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 5:24 p.m.

is this the guy that passes out free hot dogs?


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 5:45 p.m.


Peter Jameson

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 4:50 p.m.

don't all old people live in situations like this?


Mon, Sep 19, 2011 : 9:02 p.m.

NOt all OLD PEople are on drugs ..that change there minds or distord it. Not all old people are short 5.4feet or under a lot of cases short people livein apt. condos with kichten cupboards to high for them to reach.hench clutter on the floor. handicap people not living in handicap aparstments on the first floor, lot ofthem lving 3-8 floors aboof and in case of fire the firedeaprtment cannot reach them ?no elevators running in case of fired. The landlord is not responsdable for inside mess. only in extreme ( like too many animals ) etc etc. or when it STINKS. lot of old people are on medication that makes them confused or angry..yes the modren medizin has a lot of problems. The town buidling inspector should be augthrizde to inspect evry 6- 12 months .and in new move in inspect the aprt. /condo before the new owner moevs in/sign the lease!


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 5:52 p.m.

oh my you're hittin close to home, not all of us old folks live like that...some of us live like students on State and Packard...all of our garbage is thrown on the front lawn.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 4:03 p.m.

I personally know Elmer Sheldon from an outreach program that I run in Ypsilanti. I would like to say that I am shocked, but I am not. Elmer told me a year ago that he had a house but he was basically homeless. As far as I know, he has no family or any that he has contact with. To look at Elmer, most would think he is an uneducated bum. Elmer is a smart man, Speaks well and can tell a story like no other. He has a great smile and is witty. Something in his past, has brought him to this point in his life. WE ALL HAVE A STORY!!! I feel bad for his Neighbors, but I really feel bad for Elmer and others like him. They are looked at as a menaces to society, but what programs and goverment help is available to them...not much. They can go to Counseling sure, but that's an hour a week at the most. Most if not all hoarders have deeper darker mental issues. Unfortunetly people with that deep of mental issues will never be excepted or respected in our society. I AM NOT IN ANYWAY GIVING ELMER AN EXCUSE!!! Let me ask you this, when was the last time you helped someone down on their luck? Offered to buy the homeless guy with a sign a nice warm cup of coffee or just stop to ask him his name? Give someone walking in the rain with no coat your umbrella? The guy walking around looking in garbage cans for bottles, your empties rolling around on the back floorboard? Volunteered at a Homeless Shelter or Food Pantry? Even simpler things, like stopping 10 seconds to hold the door for someone or just simply smiling at a stranger. You have to make a difference to see a difference!!

Life in Ypsi

Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 1:42 p.m.

There are rules against breaking a client's confidentiality and even though his name is published here I think it's in poor place for you to disclose he was getting help by you.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 7:44 p.m.

Thank you!


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 6:24 p.m.

Bless your service.

Turd Ferguson

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 5:07 p.m.

Plenty of people get hand outs.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 4:02 p.m.

He's suspected of hoarding raw meat? Hey, maybe they've found the person who stole the literally-full cart of meat from Kroger!

Turd Ferguson

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 5:06 p.m.

@Hockeymom12, Doesn't mean he gets all his food from a Food Pantry. He does have a basket on his bicycle.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 4:05 p.m.

No, he is getting it from a Food Pantry

Jack Gladney

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 2:58 p.m.

Wow. Just Wow. I could call this individual 'poopy pants' on and have my comment deleted. can run a story about someone by name with a mental illness (with pictures) and it is A-OK. Who is in charge there? *delete comment*

Some Guy in 734

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 2:48 p.m.

When I read this story, the top of the page was graced by an ad for grass fed ground beef from Arbor Farms. This morning, I drove past Arbor Farms, and all I could think of was this story. I'm pretty sure Arbor Farms would prefer to keep their distance from any association with this level of filth, and it's unfortunate that the raw meat hoarder got paired with the lovely photo of a pile of bright pink mince. You can do better,, and you know it. Heck, the big dog of the internet has major advertising operations some three blocks or so from you. Can't you call a meeting with them? In fact, I'll do it for you right now. Create a set of tags for stories that don't appear publicly. "gross" could be one. "pedo" seems a natural. "justplainsad" is probably necessary. You can fill in the rest; you know your stories better than I do. When you've got those, offer advertisers the option of paying slightly more per click for each category they want to exclude. Boom. Done. Contact me for information on where to remit my consultancy fee.

say it plain

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 10:27 p.m.

too funny someguy...

John of Saline

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 2:38 p.m.

"...even raw chicken stuffed in the mailbox." What, where do you keep your raw chicken? No, seriously, this is sad and somewhat common (usually not to this extent, though).

dading dont delete me bro

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 6:30 p.m.

maybe not


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 4:09 p.m.

He doesn't have electricity, maybe he put it there over the winter to keepmit frozen?!?!


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 2:26 p.m.

As an owner/resident at Wingate, I am absolutely appalled that according to this article, the Association could have done more a long time ago to remedy this situation.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 5:48 p.m.

unfortunately, if there is a shortfall in the assn funding, the residents will all have to pay to cover the expense until the homeowner, repays the debt.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 2:40 p.m.

I do sympathize with you, unlike most commenting here who would rather sympathize with the owner of the condo. You and your neighbors truly are the victims. On a good note, it does look like the Wingate will be under investigation for their lack of effort. I remember a few years ago I was condo shopping in the area and was shown a condo there. I chose to purchase at another place, but it makes you wonder about most associations. I feel a little better that the director of my association is local and nearly always assessable by phone, but I still wonder.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 2:22 p.m.

I don't really see why so many are jumping to defend this behavior and calling it "mental illness". Yes, quite possibly he could be mentally ill. That does need to be taken into consideration, but if he is found competent enough to know the difference between right and wrong, he needs to be brought to justice. But do any of you know him? Are any of you licensed mental health professionals qualified to make this assessment? Many of you would be the same people that would broad brush any wrongful human behavior (thieves, rapist, murderers, drunk drivers, drug users) as mentally ill. Or if you mostly don't broad brush any wrongful human behavior, then why do you see this as different from any other type of disturbance? In many cases people do know the difference between right and wrong, yet choose to do wrong with complete, reckless disregard of the consequences and effect on others. It's the whole reason behind the criminal justice system.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 3:48 p.m.

Uh... Did you read the article? Apparently he hasn't lived there for quite some time. Maybe he couldn't live with such as manner of filth and when it got too disgusting he just left it and chose to be homeless. I by far am no expert on hoarders (although I've seen shows on TV about it) and from what I've seen of hoarders, even they have some sense of cleanliness or orderliness to where they will still occupy the residence. This is way beyond any textbook hoarding that I've ever seen. There are such people out there (many under the influence of drugs) that will just completely trash residences and walk when the filth gets to be too much.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 2:42 p.m.

uh... did you see the pictures? Explain how any sane person would create or live in such a manner of filth. Yes hoarding IS an illness and especially dangerous when it causes conditions that can harm yours or others health.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 2:20 p.m.

Gross beyond belief.

Tom Teague

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 2:12 p.m.

There are two different spellings of the owner's last name in this article (as of 10:11 am): Sheldon and Sheldong.

Tom Teague

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 2:18 p.m.

Fast work: The errors in the story were corrected when I refreshed the screen five minutes later.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 2:02 p.m.

Mr. Briegel, publishing the photos does not constitute mocking the mentally ill. But a lot of people here seem to project that onto the photos.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 1:57 p.m.

I guess you can't blame the decline of ALL property values on the mortgage industry.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 1:48 p.m.

I would be interested in a follow-up article on hoarding. People hoard animals as well as things. Sometimes well meaning people help them to maintain their situation by providing storage space or assisting in feeding of the animals. It would be helpful if the article contained information on how family, friends and neighbors can truly help in a situation like this. Bringing sexual abuse, eating disorders and such into the light has helped in providing treatment for people who are suffering. Hoarders are also suffering.

David Briegel

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 1:43 p.m.

Ann Arbor does NOT allow accident victims, criminals or politicians to be mocked in such a demeaning manner. Yet it is fashionable to mock the mentally ill. And AdmiralMoose, you are quite correct that it speaks volumes about and many posters.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 5:46 p.m.

I didn't see any mocking in the article.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 1:22 p.m.

Feces. Why does there always have to be feces?


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 5:45 p.m.

could be because the rodents that infested the property weren't housebroken? And as you are well aware, everybody poops from the rats to the bugs.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 1:19 p.m.

It's refreshing to see sympathy for the hoarder expressed. I also feel at least equal sympathy for the neighboring residents who still occupy the premisis. Mold, especially, can be deadly. The other possible contaminants and infestations sound like a health risk as well.

David Briegel

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 12:48 p.m.

I'm with Mayalynn and Picker on this one. Sensationalizing mental illness is hardly helpful. What is your recommended solution? Society won't pay for health care much less mental health care. But we will look down our nose from our position of moral superiority. Aren't we just pleased as punch?


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 7:54 p.m.

Nobody is showing the mental illness, they are showing a SYMPTOM and result of the illness. If you show the car accident caused by an alcoholic, or the lungs of a tobacco addict do you get upset? Those are mental health diseases as well. Showing the results is NOT a bad thing.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 6:34 p.m.

of course you are, d.b.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 1:10 p.m.

Where does this article sensationalize anything? How does it look down its nose at anyone? How does the current state of pathetically low funding for healthcare/mental illness have anything to do with reporting on a court action? All of this says more about a particular reader than about the story or the subject.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 12:32 p.m.

Well done AdmiralMoose. It's just possible that another person begining to go thorough the early stages of Hoarding might just see that they need help. It's about knowledge and thorough knowledge we learn even those with mental illiness or physical illiness. Yes, it's disgusting; but possibly another resident might act sooner then later after seeing this story protecting themselves from the possible animal indestations these cases bring.

Jimmy McNulty

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 12:27 p.m.

Contrary to some posters here, I would like to be informed if this unsanitary situation is happening in my neighborhood. Sheldong's illness has also endangered and jeopardized those whose condo properties abut his own. Plus, this does not seem like an isolated incident for this owner. So yes, it is a valid story to run in

Jimmy McNulty

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 9:01 p.m.

Yeah, the photos kinda made me want to vomit, but I just had to look since they were there.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 12:40 p.m.

One word: photo-voyeurism. I agree that this is a valid story to run, Jimmy, for the reasons that you mention. However, I believe that publishing photos of the inside of a person's house is an invasion of privacy, and, in the case of a mentally or physically disabled person the violation is shameful.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 12:12 p.m.

Three things: First, it's not Tom's job to diagnose an illness and recommend treatment. He reported quite thoroughly on the steps that local officials are taking to clean up a public health hazard. Second, if he ran only the exterior shot of the condo he would have misrepresented the story. I think you have to see how bad the conditions are to understand the legal action. Moreover the juxtaposition of the two views, the normalcy versus the chaos, is the most startling element here, I think. Lastly, these photos will get Mr. Sheldon some help. People who care about him will see a problem that they were not allowed to see before; now they can help him. But that is a benefit of solid reporting -- not the purpose of the story.


Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 12:55 p.m.

Wishful thinking. It is sensationalism ... period.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 12:01 p.m.

I would agree that this is a form of mental illness. But then so are many of the things we see in the news everyday but that does not keep some of the righteous from condemning people that have 2 dozen dogs or junk cars on every inch of their property. Would you have us go back to the days when everything was swept under the rug? In many cases of mental illness the only thing that has made help possible is the bringing to the light the problem.

The Picker

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 11:40 a.m.

Shame on Ann and Tom Perkins. You have sunk so low in sensationalizing this case of mental illness! You are dispicable! Trading on someones misery seems to have become your stock in trade. You are pathetic and should be ashamed of your selves!


Sat, Sep 17, 2011 : 12:12 p.m.

Picker: Because your original statement was so over-the-top in its wording, and utterly missing the 'public welfare' aspects of this case, the responses are quite appropriate. Moderate language and balanced thinking beget moderate responses ...a lesson zealots on both left and right would do well to learn.

The Picker

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 11 p.m.

You seem to miss the point. The mans situation is definately dysfunctional. But does he deserve the public pillory for his crimes? I think not, and stand by my original statement!


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 7:51 p.m.

Based on that logic, we should not show pictures of any car accidents caused by alcoholics. Alcoholism is a disease, why shouldn't we show the RESULTS of an untreated disease. By the way, I wonder how the Ron Paul lovers of the world reconcile this. If this man has private property rights like they claim, it is not the governments place to get involved at all.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 2:31 p.m.

Picker, I don't think you would say the same thing if you owned a unit at Wingate. I am an owner and I am happy that I now know what is going on.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 1:57 p.m.

What about the misery of the poor folks who do try to keep their property up that might have the misfortune of living somewhere in the vicinity of this wreck? If they live close enough, they have had to put up with the smell and have probably had damage to their homes due to this. Who is going to help them? I think I would sympathize more with those folks then some habitual hoarder (8 properties, really!?!) who claims they are homeless but has had enough money to qualify/own 8 properties and leave them in this condition.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 1:47 p.m.

Chill'picker' and get a grip. As others have correctly pointed out ,this and other mental illnesses can impact innocent others....this one by possible contagions, infestations , fire hazards etc. privacy/ compassion are trumped by public safety issues.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 11:36 a.m.

Most hoarders ultimately need an intervention rather than a help line because they don't recognize they have a problem. Take my wife. Please.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 11:26 a.m.

Actually this looks a little better than some of the student housing I have cleaned in Ann Arbor


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 2:44 p.m.

Humor maybe but in truth no way.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 11:12 a.m.

What is the point of publishing this series of interior photos? So that sane-and-sanitary readers can feel justifiably disgusted by and superior to this un-neighborly display of mental illness? Along with your ain't-it-awful photojournalism, how about some facts on hoarding [e.g., "Stuff" by researchers Steketee & Frost], and about where those who feel overwhelmed by their stuff can turn to for help?

Christy King

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 8:14 p.m.

Oh, Andy Jacobs, always my favorite.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 2:46 p.m.

What brings any horrific illness or issue to the focus and attention it deserves? Pictures! People don't read anymore... too many words.


Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 2:41 p.m.

While I understand the tenant may have a mental illness, he doesn't live at the property anymore. There hasn't been electricity in the unit since 2003. 8 years with no power and rotting animals and raw meat? I feel like someone needed to be blamed for the neglect, whether the tenant or the property management company, and showing pictures of how these people endangered the lives of so many is absolutely valid.

no flamers!

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 : 12:28 p.m.

I am perplexed by the attack on the writer and webiste for posting photos--how could the reader understand the scale of the ordinance violation without such information. You say the perpetrator of the violation is mentally ill. Maybe so, I have no idea. But being mentally ill doesn't allow a person to put others at a health risk or damage 8 homes and/or rental units.