Brooklyn, New York — When elderly widow Rita Wolfensohn took a fall in her Brooklyn home in September 2016 and needed to go to a hospital, she hadn’t been in touch with son Louis for many years.
Her sister-in-law, Josette Buchman, made a rare visit to Wolfensohn’s home to collect some necessities for Rita’s hospital stay. While Buchman was gathering the items, she made a grisly discovery and immediately phoned the NYPD.
The discovery was the decades-old corpse of Rita Wolfensohn’s son Louis.
Louis’s remains were found in a second-floor bedroom in his mother’s home. Like the rest of the house the room was dirty, cluttered, and filled with cobwebs and trash, looking as if “a garbage truck dumped its load,” one official said later.
The room stank of rotten food but not of decaying flesh because the remains were almost completely skeletonized.
Police theorize that other reeking food may have disguised the smell of the rotting corpse when Louis died years ago.
A police officer described the discovery as follows:
“It’s like some reverse Psycho scene”
He was referring to the Hitchcock thriller in which a son keeps his mother’s corpse in the family home.
The Brooklyn skeleton was “completely intact,” Buchman later said of her discovery. It was lying on its back on a thin mattress and was clad in jeans, socks, and a shirt. Louis’s body is believed to have been there for 20 years, since the son disappeared, say authorities.
The mother and homeowner is a hoarder. In addition, she is legally blind. She has had only minimal contact with family members in the past few decades. Her husband, Jesse Wolfensohn, died in 1987. Louis, a former cab driver, died and disappeared in his late twenties and would now be 49. The widow’s other son, Michael, died at age 38 in 2003.
After the remains were discovered, police went to the hospital to interrogate the sick woman. She spoke of Louis as if he had simply moved away many years ago and had never contacted her again.
Brooklyn police now believe that the mother was not aware that she was living with the corpse of her son, and that Louis died of natural causes. A New York medical examiner will determine his exact cause of death.
The Brooklyn home where the mother lived with her dead son’s skeleton was once a neat and well-appointed two-story single-family brick house worth about $700,000. It is located on 2111 Avenue N near East 22nd Street in a section of Brooklyn called Midwood, a middle-class neighborhood popular with new immigrants, particularly Eastern Europeans and Asians.
Rita Wolfensohn’s home had fallen into disrepair in recent years. It now sits empty, with unopened mail littering the small front porch. The New York Post reports that no one is answering calls to the home’s landline telephone.
After her stay in the hospital, Rita Wolfensohn was moved by her brother and sister-in-law to an assisted living facility on Long Island. Funeral and burial plans for Louis’ remains are currently underway.