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Tue Jul 16, 2013, 05:44 PM

In Cluttered Home, a Dark Secret 3 Decades Old

By VIVIAN YEE

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. — There was the night James Nichols introduced himself to his new neighbors on Vassar Road by walking in their front door without knocking. There was the afternoon Denise Darragh asked him to help her with an injured squirrel, and he — still wearing his suit jacket — killed it with a hatchet as the children playing in her yard screamed. And the day she was painting the house, wearing cutoff shorts, and turned around to see him taking photos of her from below with a long camera lens.

In later decades, after Mr. Nichols’s wife disappeared — she had killed herself or run away, he told relatives and friends and the police, though they had doubts — he withdrew from the neighbors as his little white house retreated from the world. On the collapsing roof, neat gray shingles gave way to drooping tar paper. In the garage, hills of junk grew higher. On the rare occasions Mr. Nichols appeared, he would be sitting in his car in the driveway, drowsing or reading the paper or maybe doing nothing at all.

When he was found dead in December, slumped in a chair inside his home in this Hudson Valley town, there was no will to be found, only masses of decaying books, cameras and computers. Six months later, a clean-out crew delving into the detritus found a hollow-sounding false wall in the basement.

Behind that wall, a barrel-shaped container. Inside the container, a black garbage bag bound with rope. Inside the bag, the skeletal remains of a woman missing nearly 30 years: JoAnn Nichols, his wife, disinterred on June 28 a floor below where she used to charm visitors with a honeyed Southern accent and a ready smile.

She had died, the county medical examiner said, of blunt-force trauma to her head.

more

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/16/nyregion/amid-junk-at-hoarders-house-his-missing-wife.html?_r=0

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Tue Jul 16, 2013, 06:03 PM

1. Makes you think twice about what your neighbors might be doing behind closed doors! n/t

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Tue Jul 16, 2013, 06:38 PM

2. at least he was smarter than the Raymond Burr character in Rear Window

digging a hole in the courtyard of an apartment building did not demonstrate a lot of common sense.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Tue Jul 16, 2013, 06:53 PM

3. He got away with murder - but at what cost?

It's a fairly common sentiment that I've even seen mirrored in the Harry Potter series: In order to murder someone, you have to be willing to kill off a piece of your own soul.

Sounds like James nearly did himself in when he killed his wife. All that was left of him for the next 30 years was a ghost.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Tue Jul 16, 2013, 07:08 PM

4. racist comments about Barack Obama? I wonder if he also killed his son..

who also died in mystery circumstances..

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Response to HipChick (Reply #4)

Tue Jul 16, 2013, 07:22 PM

6. ? Clearly I am missing something

without which your comment seems like a nonsequitor.

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Response to salin (Reply #6)

Tue Jul 16, 2013, 07:26 PM

7. You are missing reading the full story at the link...who puts dead cats in a freezer

that you and your wife use everyday...that was one sick effer..

Glad he died alone,surrounded by junk

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Response to HipChick (Reply #7)

Tue Jul 16, 2013, 08:36 PM

8. I did read the story - and was revulsed.

just didn't get the reference to Obama and racism - unless it was just going for the absurdity of media coverage.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Tue Jul 16, 2013, 07:18 PM

5. Brrr!

Gruesome, soul chilling story.

If old folks still told stories on the front porch to the neighborhood kids on long, soft Summer Evenings, THIS would be a good one,
and James Nichols would still be living on as a tortured ghost never finding peace,
which is exactly the fate he deserves.

Somewhere inside of my aging body & soul, Marie Laveau and the Loup Garou still live on,
thanks to Story Tellers on the New Orleans front porches in the 50s.
Sadly, this tradition is no longer with us.

...but the images of James Nichols, and the 30 years he spent living in HIS self-created nightmare with the ghost of his murdered wife is every bit as creepy and haunting.

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