Crime scenes come in all shapes and sizes. There are murders in motel rooms. There are hit-and-runs outside schools. There are murder-suicides in the suburbs. There are even accidental deaths which are treated as crimes until the police can finish their investigations.
Any crime that involves an injury, or results in a death, can leave behind a lot of mess. After the police and forensics experts have seen all that they need to see, and recorded all of the evidence as carefully as possible, they no longer need to leave the scene as it was. In fact, it can be cleaned up completely and restored to how it should be. But the police aren’t usually the ones who take care of this. Neither is the fire department, or the paramedics. In fact, none of the emergency services claim responsibility for the clean-up at all.
Human bodies are full of toxins, however, and fluids like blood require a lot of work to be removed. You can’t exactly expect a normal person to be able to do a good enough job without training or specialized equipment. That’s where the crime scene cleaners come in.
They are hired to clean up the scene, no matter how disgusting it may be – and it can get disgusting. As a result, crime scene cleaners come face to face with some awful realities of life – and death. Here are 15 stories that we have gathered from crime scene cleaners around the world, with chilling results.
15. A Shotgun To The Head Leaves A Mess EVERYWHERE
Many crime scene cleaners will tell you all about the horrors of a shotgun suicide or headshot, which tend to be the absolute worst to clean up. Why? Because of the mess that they leave behind. When a shotgun hits the head, it can totally obliterate the skull, sending skull fragments and brain matter to coat the space. These small fragments land everywhere, and cleaning them up is a difficult task. One crime scene cleaner reported having found pieces of skull behind clocks on dressers, sitting in corners of the room, underneath beds, and even embedded inside a TV. They can also wedge inside furniture and between gaps in the floorboards. It can also coat the ceiling, which is hazardous to clean – the only way for the matter to go once it is pried loose is down, which isn’t fun when you are standing below it. Full hazard clothing is always required for clean-ups.
14. Cleaners Find Man’s Face At Scene Of Car Accident
It’s not just brutal murders that count as crime scenes. Car accidents can be eligible, too. This story comes from a Halloween night, when a man and his girlfriend went out to have fun with their friends. After drinking too much, the couple, both in their 20s, got into a fight and left. The man drove over 100mph and, with a delayed reaction time, inevitably crashed the car. Hitting a pole at that speed was enough to split the car in half and seriously injure both, killing him instantly. Her leg had been ripped off by the impact but she was still alive. As the team approached, they saw what looked like a Halloween mask on the ground. But it wasn’t a mask – the speed of the impact along with the way the pieces of the car hit him ended up literally degloving the man’s face. The woman’s leg was also still wedged in the crushed space under the dashboard, still wearing a high heel.
13. Parts Left On Each Balcony As Body Fell From 18th Floor
One story which seems to have multiple variations from different cases is what happens when you don’t plan your suicide from a balcony too well. Apparently it happens often enough to be a trend, but this one example is a particularly special one. A lot of jumpers don’t bother to think about the balconies below them, imagining that they will stay clear of them. A man in Hamilton who was a little larger than average jumped from the 18th floor, and hit multiple balconies on the way down. Each time, he left a part of his body behind. He finally hit a railing on one of the balconies hard enough to bend it, then was catapulted towards the floor. He exploded on impact, which then sent a splatter of his insides back across the building. It’s not as neat as they show it in the movies, that’s for sure.
12. Kidnapped Nuns And A Painter Hired To Cover The Blood Splatter
Ever wonder what horrors might be lurking in a motel room’s history? One story comes from a man who was hired to paint a motel room. A murderer had first killed his own father, then kidnapped two nuns and brought them to the motel room. Once there, he killed one of the two, before cutting the hands and feet off the fresh corpse. This left a lot of blood spattered over the walls, and our storyteller was hired to literally paint over them. They weren’t cleaned up first – just painted over. He was paid double for the severe emotional distress of the work, but it still would have cost a lot less than hiring a professional crime scene cleaning crew. Of course, what this meant was that the work wasn’t done to the required standards when dealing with a biohazard like blood. Imagine staying the night in that motel, seeing some peeling paint on the walls, and noticing the dark stains on the wall behind it…
11. Unattended Deaths Are The Worst
Unattended deaths manage to top shotgun suicides for the title of the very worst job. An unattended death is when someone has died in their own home, usually in isolation, and they are not found for some time. They may have died of natural causes – for example, the elderly can often fall prey to this. They may have committed suicide, perhaps because of the loneliness that also prevents them from being found immediately. The smell of a decaying body is very strong, and even seasoned cleaners will need to wear an air filtering mask to keep as much of the smell out as possible. Without it, it is impossible not to throw up in response to the smell. Crime scene cleaners will also use tricks such as rubbing Vicks into the skin under their noses to try to keep a stronger scent over the decomposition. Unattended bodies also start to turn into liquid very quickly, which can have its own unpleasant ramifications.
10. The Death Of A Hoarder Is Something Else
Cleaning up a home after an unattended death can take up to 2 days. When the owner of the home also happens to be a hoarder, that timeframe can easily double. Josh Marsden is the managing director of Australian Forensic Cleaning. He described the death of a hoarder, which required his company to go through and clean the whole house. Alongside the body itself, his team also had to get rid of papers dating back to 1983, maggots in the floorboards where they had been attracted to leaked bodily fluids, dead rats and even cats, and plenty of animal faeces. Moldy and rotten food is another general given for a hoarder. When deaths are unattended, there is another unpleasant addition to look out for: the flies, which can get so thick that their bodies carpet the floor after they have laid their young in the body and died on the spot.
9. The Fluids Of An Unattended Obese Victim…
A man who owns a carpet cleaning and restoration company brought this story to the table. We’ve mentioned unattended bodies already, but the situation can get even worse when obesity is involved. A morbidly obese woman who weighed an estimated 500 pounds died and was not discovered for three weeks. As her body liquefied, the bodily fluids began to leak out. Not only were they strongly acidic, but there was a lot of them thanks to her size. These fluids penetrated all the way through the mattress she died on and then into the carpet, where they soaked through the pad and then into the floor. Not only that, but they even went through the floor itself and dripped down into the space below. That’s what happens when a large body starts to decompose! The man mentioned at the end of his story that he thinks his respirators, which cost just $20, are worth their weight in gold.
8. A Bath Full Of Skin
Marie and Rhiannon Fagan work with Lesley Wright to form the company CSI Scotland. They have been cleaning crime scenes and talking about it on a BBC documentary titled Grime Scene Queen. One of the stories that they describe is truly shocking. Marie tells of a bath where someone had died, where the outline of the body was still present. At first she thought it might be a layer of toilet roll stuck to the inside of the bath, before she realized it was skin. Her daughter had a similar instance where she thought she saw a glove. She picked it up, only to realize that it was the skin – complete with nails – from the deceased’s hand. It was also full of maggots. It was one of the most startling moments for her, when she went into shock and couldn’t move for a moment or two. It’s chilling to think of a layer of skin left behind when your body is gone.
7. Razorblade Evidence
One of the most chilling things about crime scenes is that, even after the body has been taken away, you can often still see the evidence of what happened in the room. Jayce LeBlanc is a crime scene cleaner who has told of his experiences with obvious suicides. He describes walking into the bathroom and seeing a bath still full of blood. On the side of the bath he could see the outline of the razor that was used to do the job, with blood spattered all around it but the patch underneath left clean. There were splashes of blood from the sink to the tub where the deceased had staggered over to get into the water while they bled out. It’s a shocking image, but something that Jayce deals with on a regular basis. He says that although you can take as much training and do as much practise as you want, nothing will ever prepare you for the reality.
6. The Man In The Pit
Jayce LeBlanc also had another story to tell – his own unique experience of the shotgun suicide, which as we know is not at all fun for crime scene cleaners. This was just his third crime scene since starting the job, so it was even harder to take. The body belonged to a father of three young children who had gone into a concrete walled pit in the ground, and then shot himself there. Because it was being investigated, the body stayed in the pit for 3 weeks. When Jayce got there, he had to work through the night to remove all traces of the body. It took him 12 hours to get the job done. Why did he work through the night? Because he had to make sure that the children wouldn’t witness them cleaning up bits of their father. Most suicides probably don’t think about the implications of what their loved ones will live through until their body is taken care of.
5. When A Decomposing Body Liquifies And Drips Through Your Light Fixtures
Don Weir is a crime scene cleaner who owns Ontario Crime Scene Services, which he founded after spending a year working under a rival company in the business. He also has a background in home renovation, which is especially helpful for getting those homes fixed up again once the traces are removed. One of the most chilling jobs that he remembers was a home with an unattended death which was not discovered for months. It was infested with maggots by the time he got there, but worst of all, it was an apartment. The only reason that the corpse was discovered was because the light fixtures of the apartment below started to have mysterious drips coming down them. It wasn’t that he left a tap on – it was his liquefied remains dripping through the ceiling. Weir says that even after all his years in the business, he never sees the same thing twice – there’s always a different circumstance or reaction.
4. The Smell Of Diabetes
Nate Berg is the owner of Scene Clean. He recounted a story from one of his jobs, where he knew the deceased had been a diabetic as soon as he approached the house. An obese man had died on his living room floor of natural causes, but it had been 6 weeks before anyone discovered that he was dead. During that time, as his body began to decompose, liquids leaked down through the flooring and into the basement. Berg knew from the scent that there would be diabetes involved, as it has a particular sweet smell all of its own. All that was left of the body itself was a thick layer of pink sludge on the floor, with the clayish fat laying in and around the matter. The house was also swarming with flies. Berg says that along with diabetes, there are a number of other diseases which just have a stronger smell when they decompose.
3. Power Tools Are Popular
Yes, there are messier ways to commit suicide than by using a shotgun – but only just. Crime scene cleaner Robert McKeever works in California, having started in the industry when he was 26. He says he enjoys his work because it’s different every day, the schedule is great, and he’s always got the most popular stories when he goes to parties. In particular, he likes to talk about the times when people have killed themselves using power tools. Apparently, one of the foremost ways to do it is to cut off your own head. Presumably the power tool has to finish the job, because after getting past the skin of the throat, no one is going to have the strength of will to push it further while they lose blood rapidly. He also mentions having picked up a whole human brain in his hands before, which is probably another of those stories that get him an audience at parties.
2. The Purple Teddy
When a crime scene cleaner has been on the job for a long time, things start to feel a bit more normal for them. At least, more normal than they would seem for us. Most try to tell themselves that it’s not really pieces of a human that they are cleaning up. The less they can learn about the people that died, the better. Doug Baruchin is the president of Island Trauma Services in Long Island. He describes a crime scene which was soaked in blood: on the walls, in the cracks of the floor, on the doorknob and the light switch, on the lampshade. It’s even gathered under the bed, a large pool of it showing where the victim tried to hide before they bled to death. The bludgeoning was something that Baruchin had seen before, but this scene stood out for a different reason. There was a purple teddy bear in the room, which really gave him pause. It was upsetting to think of the owner of that teddy bear suffering a horrific and violent death.
1. When The Cleaners Rush Their Work
Finally, a tale of a crime scene cleaner that should have known better. After the Tom Guerin and his mother were attacked by a former friend wielding an axe, blood was splattered all around the house – along with the body of Sandra, who unfortunately died at the scene. That was on December 11. By the time Tom had returned from hospital on Christmas Day, he was dismayed to find that the crime scene cleaners had rushed their work the day before to get back to their festivities, and had not finished cleaning up properly. He found his own blood and his mother’s splattered over the garage wall and pathway. There were even broken teeth from his dog, which had to be put down after the attack. Tom and a relative were forced to spend Christmas scrubbing the house with bleach. The team, Capital Chem Dry, returned on New Year’s Eve – but the damage had already been done.