Cleanup is underway at a Portage County home that's been the focus of an investigation into a missing mother and son.
Marie Jost and her son, Theodore haven't been seen since the 1980's. Their property in Amherst Junction was searched for signs of them, but investigators found a home with no plumbing or sewage system and other hazardous messes.
Under the order of the health department, a waste disposal company is going through nearly 15 tons of garbage on the property, sorting it into three main categories: typical junk, hazardous materials that can't go into a landfill, like batteries, and waste that poses a human health risk.
"Things like drain oil, there's propane out there, tar, just some substances that weren't necessarily being stored properly," said health officer Jenny Gaffke. "Additionally, there was some human waste and also evidence of a rodent infestation. "
The Health Dept. has deemed the property a public health concern after an inspection this fall. They've hired Clean Harbors to transport what's dangerous off the property and into a landfill. Everything else stays put.
"This is not a county owned property so we want to make sure we only eliminate what needs eliminating," Gaffke said.
The county was first alerted of this severe hoarding situation this past summer, when the homeowner, Marie Jost turned 100, and her social security checks were still being cashed. That led law enforcement to 3658 Alm Rd, where her son, Charles Jost was found living, but no Marie. Charles is now charged with theft and fraud, along with his sister and brother-in-law Dolores and Ronald Disher. They've denied the charges and say they haven't seen their mother since the 1980s when they say she went on a trip with her other son, Theodore. Then at the end of September, investigators found bone fragments on the land that are currently being tested in the state crime lab.
When asked why the County didn't inspect this area years ago, Gaffke said she only became the health officer in July. "So I'm not really quite sure what has happened in the past. So we do now know about it and we're taking the necessary steps to make sure things are abated appropriately," she said.
The cleanup crew should be done sorting through the property by Friday.
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