Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 114–118 | Cite as

A lethal case of hoarding due to the combination of traumatic and confined space asphyxia

  • Simone CappellettiEmail author
  • Luigi Cipolloni
  • Daria Piacentino
  • Mariarosaria Aromatario
Case Report


Hoarding is defined as the acquisition of, and failure to discard, possessions of little use or value to others, usually associated with a significant degree of clutter in the individual’s home. We describe a case of a woman who died from a combined traumatic and confined space asphyxia, after being trapped under some of the objects amassed in her apartment. The event was considered to be accidental; by taking into account the information gathered during assessment of the scene, we believe that the accident took place while entering or exiting the apartment. It appears that the woman, who was trying to open or close the door, could have been using her leg to keep the objects piled behind the door from falling. Unfortunately the pile of hoarded objects collapsed and the woman was fatally trapped underneath them. The age and strength of the woman played an important role in the fatal incident, she was too old and weak to remove the items that had collapsed over her body. The scarcity of space between the collapsed objects and the woman, as well as the absence of external or internal signs of violent asphyxiation, or other causes of death, allowed us to establish that the death resulted from a combined mechanism of both the traumatic and the confined space asphyxiation.


Asphyxia Clutter Hoarding disorder Law Psychiatric disease Public health 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

Ethics approval was not required for this study.

Informed consent

Informed Consent was not required for this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simone Cappelletti
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Luigi Cipolloni
    • 1
  • Daria Piacentino
    • 3
  • Mariarosaria Aromatario
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Anatomical, Histological, Forensic Medicine and Orthopedic SciencesSapienza – University of RomeRomeItaly
  2. 2.State Police Health Service DepartmentMinistry of InteriorRomeItaly
  3. 3.NESMOS (Neuroscience, Mental Health, and Sensory Organs) Department, School of Medicine and Psychology, Sant’Andrea HospitalSapienza – University of RomeRomeItaly

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