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City marshals arrest extreme Sun City Summerlin hoarder

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Updated: 10/12/2012 5:04 pm
LAS VEGAS – The owner of a home in Sun City Summerlin that has been the focus of a large cleanup has been taken into custody.

Kenneth Epstein, 55, was charged with a variety of misdemeanor counts. They include:

•One count of failure to register a pistol
•Two counts of public nuisance
•One count of unjustifiable injury to animals
•One count of failure to have a cat fanciers license
•One count of violation of the city’s fire code

Family members were concerned because Epstein has been living outside since the duplex was deemed an uninhabitable health hazard last week. It is their hope, and the belief of the city, that taking him into custody will be in the best interests of his safety and can start an intervention process. A psychiatric evaluation will take place over the next 72 hours. The city offered Epstein temporary housing, but he refused it opting to sleep on his back patio.

Since last week, a team from various city departments, the state, the Health District, the police and a private contractor have been working to mitigate the impacts of apparent hoarding. Staff from state Adult Mental Health Services has also been involved. An administrative search and abatement warrant was issued Oct. 4 to rid the home of health hazards such as dead animals, insect-invested items, feces, rodents, decaying food and other contaminated possessions. Since Oct. 5, the cleanup team has removed more than 41 tons of items. Team members describe it as the worst example of hoarding they have experienced since items throughout the entire home were stacked from floor to ceiling. The only way to move through the duplex was to crawl on top of the piles.

Neighbors had complained to the city and the homeowners associations in Sun City that the problem got so bad that foul odors were coming from the home and debris was piling up on the exterior. Upon investigation, it was discovered the entire home was filled with possessions, mountains of trash and numerous cats. So far, 55 cats were found in the duplex—40 live and 15 dead.

The removal of the contaminated possessions is about 95 percent complete.

On Thursday, a second warrant was issued to give the team the ability to remove all the contaminated dry wall, insulation, ductwork, electrical outlet boxes, all flooring, windows and window frames from the home. The health district indicated this is a key step in ridding the duplex of all pests and contaminates. The removal of these items is expected to take place in the next few days.

In the meantime, both duplexes must first be tented and fumigated. This work is expected to take place over the weekend. During this time, it is imperative that people stay out of the house and off the property.

-- From news release
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