A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

14 Creepy Things Found in People’s Houses

Realtors, home inspectors, funeral directors, and house cleaners all have access to homes, which means they're all privy to our creepiest of secrets.

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He’ll take that “to go”

Lorne Caplan, who provides death-cleaning services in New York and Connecticut has seen some downright disturbing things since founding Free Home Cleanup. Usually, Caplan can tell what’s in store just by observing the condition of the home’s exterior. But appearances can be deceiving, as Caplan discovered when he entered a seemingly charming home only to be “nearly knocked unconscious” by the smell of raw sewage. Turned out the homeowner had such a serious hoarding problem, he’d rendered his bathrooms unusable and had taken to relieving himself in styrofoam takeout boxes (which he couldn’t bring himself to throw out).

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In a hoarder’s home piled five-feet high with garbage, Caplan decided to start with the basement because its staircase was the only one in the house not completely blocked by stuff. Once down the steps, Caplan was pleasantly surprised to see no evidence of mold or water-damage since many hoarders allow their basements to become water-damaged… until he came face to face with a mummified possum. 

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Raccoon spa

On another job, Caplan recalls, the whole house smelled of mold. “We didn’t see the source… until we opened the basement door and saw something moving.” That’s when he flicked on his flashlight and spied a family of raccoons, frolicking in several feet of filthy water. Don’t miss the 11 creepiest things found on security cameras.

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Where baby carriages go to die

In the attic of a 200-year-old farmhouse in Ossining, New York, Caplan and his team found a collection of vintage prams. As if that weren’t creepy enough, on closer inspection, Caplan realized that each one contained one carefully swaddled, fully-preserved corpse… of a small animal. Most were dogs and cats, but there were also squirrels and raccoons, totaling more than ten in all. Eww! If that spooked you, wait till you read ghost stories from the most haunted places in the world.

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What’s that? Nothing, honey

Just as Los Angeles realtor Chantay Bridges was close to brokering a sale on an otherwise lovely home, the house inspector noticed droplets of a viscous, amber liquid on some of the interior walls. Upon closer inspection, it was revealed that the attic contained a large beehive. The honey had begun seeping from the hive in the attic to the rooms below. “We had to call in a bee company to remove the hive before the sale could go through,” Bridges tells Reader’s Digest.

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This apartment comes with a tenant. Hope you don’t mind

When Emile L’Eplattenier, a real estate analyst with fitsmallbusiness.com was starting out as a realtor, he landed what he thought was an exciting rental property: a two-bedroom “floor through” (one that takes up the whole floor of a building). But he went to see the place, he noticed the owner was reluctant to open one of the doors to one of the rooms. Upon being pressed, the building owner finally replied, “That’s where my friend Kevin lives. That won’t be a problem, will it?”

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This place is for the birds

Once, when L’Eplattenier brought a client to see an affordable apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a powerful stench in the lobby practically overwhelmed them. The lobby appeared clean, the garbage area was clean and tidy, and the apartment itself was pristine and perfect, but the client was so put off by the odor, he couldn’t bring himself to sign a lease. Upon further investigation, L’Eplattenier discovered that the building superintendent had been keeping a large flock of birds in the basement, and not doing a good job of cleaning up after them.

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So THAT’s what she used the oven for

Elizabeth Fournier is a funeral director and founder of Cornerstone Funeral Services and Cremation, a one-woman “green” funeral service in Boring, Oregon. Since part of Fournier’s job is coming into the home of the recently deceased to collect the body for burial or cremation, Fournier has been privy to her share of secrets that only the dead can tell. For example, in the oven of an elderly woman who was known to have never cooked, Fournier found a perfectly set-up and maintained three-story dollhouse.

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The man with the fabulous shoes

Fournier took care of arrangements for a deceased, highly regarded businessman known for his conservative views. She was surprised to find that one of his bedroom closets was filled with a display of gently worn high-heeled shoes that would make Carrie Bradshaw envious—and the shoes were all clearly large enough for the man to have worn. “He didn’t have any other feminine clothing,” Fournier tells Reader’s Digest, so the family deduced that he simply enjoyed walking around the house in women’s heels, perhaps simply enjoying how the heels sounded and looked on all of his very nice hardwood floors.

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What the fork?

“On my very first funeral job 27 years ago, at the home of the deceased, the family went into the bedroom to gather clothing for the man to wear for burial but found the closet door was jammed,” recalls Fournier. “Turned out the closet was filled to bursting with large plastic bins containing… forks. Silver and stainless steel forks.” The family said this guy always had joked about collecting a fork from every restaurant at which he ate. No one had ever believed him.

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The mystery baby

An unforgettably haunting discovery that Fournier once made was a birth certificate hidden under the mattress of the deceased. The birth certificate belonged to that of a child of the deceased. What made this discovery so strange was that no one in the family had any knowledge of the child. Here are the signs that your house could be haunted.

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The kids he never had

Jasmine Hobbs, a cleaning expert at London Cleaning Team, has her own anecdote about unknown children, except Hobbs’ story involves children that were never born. “Once, we had a death cleaning job in a property that had been inhabited by a lonely old woman. As we cleaned out the house, we discovered a room that contained a big, beautifully decorated Christmas tree with tons of kids’ toys underneath.” What haunted Hobbs was that the woman who lived in the house had no children. Believe it or not, this creepy house is nothing compared to these 13 haunted house mysteries no one can explain.

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The kids he wished he didn’t have

“Every home keeps his owner’s secrets,” says Lauren Haynes, who is responsible for death cleaning (also known as “end of tenancy cleaning) at Star Domestic Cleaners. Occasionally, those secrets are truly disturbing. That was the case when Haynes cleaned out the apartment of an elderly man who had maintained a hidden collection of family photos in which the heads of various members were crossed out in red marker in the shape of a pentagram. There were also voodoo dolls arranged on the floor.

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Practical joke from beyond the grave?

Lucas Machado, a Florida real estate investor and president of House Heroes LLC has attended many home inspections, but the scariest thing he’s ever seen turned out to be nothing more than a practical joke: Inspecting a “fix and flip” that had no electricity (having been abandoned years earlier), Machado nearly jumped out of his skin at the sight of a body laying still on the master bedroom mattress. Turning on his flashlight, he realized soon enough that it was merely a life-size doll dressed in old clothes. Next up, check out the craziest things every found during home inspections.

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York–based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest and in a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction, and her first full-length manuscript, "The Trust Game," was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.