SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — A retired school teacher and one-time Santa Ana planning commissioner was found dead in the middle of extreme hoarding conditions at her home, officials said Wednesday.
The body of 72-year-old Rita Corpin was discovered by her gardener around 11 p.m. Tuesday on the porch of her home in the 1400 block of South Rosewood Avenue in Santa Ana.
Authorities said the home and yard were covered in garbage and debris, with some trash piles over 5 feet high. They also found two pit bulls and more than 50 cats, the Associated Press reported.
Corpin, who taught history at a Garden Grove high school, also owned two other residences in the area, both of which were in “pack-rat” conditions.
No animals were found at the woman’s other two homes, but a neighbor at one of those properties said the woman showed up every day to leave cat food in bowls.
“We did go inside each of the three locations looking for cats or dogs in distress…so that we would not leave any animals behind in distress. We located none,” Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said.
KNX 1070’s Mike Landa reports Corpin’s brother, David, said the circumstances of her death should not erase who she was as a person.
“She may have had a ‘pack-rat’ problem, but other than that, she was great,” he said. “She was a good person, she cared about people and animals.”
Some residents who lived near Corpin said they complained to the city about the woman’s homes. She was apparently cited and refused to allow inspectors inside.
Neighbor Mary Campa said she knew neighbors were upset, but she didn’t mind.
“She was nice. She was a friendly lady. She had her own way of handling life,” she said.
Corpin was apparently living in a pickup truck because the house and yard were so full. It took hours to clear a path to remove her body.
KCAL9’s Michele Gile reports that the coroner determined Corpin died of natural causes.
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