Woman who hoarded, fed cats died of natural causes, coroner says

The 72-year-old hoarder who was found dead on her front porch with a kitten in a carrier resting on her lap died of natural causes but wasn't discovered until nearly two days after she died, according to the county coroner.

A gardener found the body of Rita Corpin, 72, late Tuesday night sitting in a chair on her porch next to a peach tree, neighbors said. The Orange County coroner determined Corpin died Monday morning.


Authorities said Corpin's body was found among some of the worst hoarding conditions they had ever seen. It took crews three hours to clear a path through the mounds of trash and overgrown vegetation so they could remove her body.

The home was so stuffed with litter that Corpin lived in her truck — a yellow Toyota pickup with a camper shell, officials said.

The dozens of cats she fed stayed mostly outside, though authorities found animal and human feces inside the house, along with mold, trash and flammable material. Two dogs were taken by animal control officers. A hazardous-materials team had to be called in.

Corpin used a Jeep she parked on the street outside her property to feed cats at her two other homes about five minutes away, police said. At night, she would drive up, honk the horn and dozens of feral cats would emerge from the overgrown brush to feed.

Darren Johnson, an inspector with the Orange County Fire Authority who also works on a task force that helps hoarders, said they had no files on the woman and had not received any report from friends or family on her living conditions.

Officials now are working to clear out the mess and police plan to trap the cats.

"It's a sad story," Johnson said. "I think we could've helped her."

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