Oak Lawn man tried to blow up his house
By Steve Metsch firstname.lastname@example.org April 24, 2014 5:42PM
Police said a man in this house, 9620 S. Mayfield, tried to kill himself after his brother died. Hoarding has made the house uninhabitable, police said. | Steve Metsch~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 26, 2014 6:37AM
An Oak Lawn resident, apparently despondent over his brother’s death the day before, tried to commit suicide Wednesday night by filling their home with natural gas, according to police.
Neighbors called Nicor Gas about 7 p.m. after smelling natural gas at the house, 9620 Mayfield Ave., police said. They said a Nicor worker recorded a high gas reading at the house and called 911, causing authorities to evacuate nearby homes before the gas line was shut off and windows broken to ventilate the house.
Police officers entered and found a man dead on a couch and another man unconscious in an upstairs bedroom. He was taken in critical condition to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.
Division Chief Michael Kaufmann said Glenn Griffith, 52, died of a brain tumor on Tuesday, and his 64-year-old brother was so depressed at Griffith’s death that he tried to blow up the house and kill himself. Police had not released the brother’s identity as of Thursday night.
“At this point, we believe that he was troubled that his brother had passed and made a suicide attempt by deciding to disconnect the gas lines to the dryer and the water heater. The house filled up with gas,” Kaufmann said. “Through the grace of God, the house did not explode. It’s good that he’s still alive. If he recovers, we hope he gets the help he needs.”
He said police had no record of a prior call to the house, which was in an uninhabitable condition because of hoarding.
“It’s not like we get calls about hoarding in houses,” Kaufmann said. “People pretty much keep that to themselves. But it was pretty bad. It takes quite an effort to walk through the house and not brush up against things.”
Bob Chibe, who has lived next door for more than 20 years, said the brothers “were nice guys, friendly, who kept to themselves pretty much. We just knew them to say ‘hello.’ I used to work for Sara Lee so I’d bring them things once in a while.
“They were what some people consider the perfect neighbors. You’d never see them. No parties,” Chibe said as he cleaned pieces of broken glass in the grass between his driveway and the Griffith home.
The brick house is hidden by a large overgrown bush. A blue Chevrolet Malibu was parked in the driveway Thursday, and the windows that had been broken out were boarded up.
Kate Mallo, who lives across the street, said her family was in the middle of dinner when firefighters knocked on the door and ordered them to evacuate their house.
“We went to my in-laws, who live near Christ (Medical Center) and got back to our house around 9 o’clock,” Mallo said.
She was not surprised to learn that the home was severely cluttered, saying one of the men “always had a disheveled kind of look. ... I can imagine what the inside (of the house) looks like. It’s unfortunate.”