People ask us all the time what the most unusual, strangest, or most comical death cleanup we have ever done and it gets us thinking about the variety of “shake-my-head” experiences we have had— things no one would believe could actually happen in real life. As dark as it sounds, we sometimes experience a bit of comic relief when we can occasionally find some levity in our otherwise gruesome and difficult task of commercial death cleanup, murder, suicide, and homicide cleaning. Recently, when a new technician asked me the other day, “What’s the most bizarre job you’ve ever done?” the ‘Fireplace Fiasco’ immediately came to mind. In our line of work, “comedy” is always dark and tinged with a strong dose of the macabre. It is with a shake of his head and a smile that our client gives us permission to share the story with our readers.

The Fireplace Fiasco: Commercial Death Cleanup

We got a call from a restaurant owner whose restaurant had been closed for several weeks during the winter slow season up in one of our northeast service areas. When he opened shop one warm spring day, he immediately noticed a wicked odor and a big pool of partially dried, dark fluid in his huge two-sided fireplace, which is the centerpiece of his restaurant. The fluid had oozed out of the fire box and onto the wood dining area floor. Figuring an animal had gotten lodged in the oversized chimney and died there, he called us to ask if we could come out and take a look and clean up the mess.

When our foreman went up on the roof to take a look at the chimney, what he found sent him right back down to the restaurant owner.

“I think you better call 911,” the foreman said. “There is definitely a body stuck in your chimney, all right— a human body.”

The authorities had to have the rock chimney split open in order to dislodge the upside-down body, which was badly decomposed. Then the body began to disintegrate when they attempted to remove it, filling the fireplace and surrounding wood floor with a tremendous amount of additional bodily fluids and tissue.

After the authorities successfully extracted the body and sent it off to the medical examiner, the scene was released to us for cleaning, and we learned that the unfortunate deceased was a notorious thief who had terrorized this small town for months. Months before, he was on camera robbing, at gun point, two gas stations, a jewelry store, and an antique shop. He had also been identified as the carjacker of an elderly couple, whom he had beat and left in a remote area outside of town before stealing their car. The couple survived, walked 10 miles in the snow back to town, and described their abductor to the police. The police, however, had been unable to catch him – until now, that is.

The thief’s brother told the police, “I knew he was gonna rob that place. I just figured he got him a pile of cash and skipped town. Fact is, I was kinda ticked off at him for not sharin’ that loot bein’ as it was me that give him the layout and all since I used to wash dishes there. Seemed like a good idea at the time, anyways. Guess it didn’t work out that good.”

We worked a team of eight techs for a day and a half to thoroughly decontaminate and deodorize the fireplace and dining area. The whole chimney and part of the wood floor had to be replaced. Since this was a restaurant, sanitation was especially key.

ABT Urges You to Call for Commercial Death Cleanup First

We remind you never to attempt to clean up an accident or crime scene by yourself because of the presence of deadly bloodborne pathogens. This is especially true if the death happens in a commercial place frequented by the public, like this restaurant. Chances are, you do not have the right protective clothing, the right waste containers, the right disinfectants, or sufficient knowledge and training to protect yourself or future visitors coming into the area.

Advanced Bio Treatment is here to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We take emergency calls and usually can be on the scene within one hour of your call. For more information regarding blood and bodily fluid cleanup, contact Advanced Bio Treatment at 800-295-1684.

Ted Pelot Owner & President of Crime Scene Cleanup Company - Advanced Bio-Treatment