A Michigan family is grieving the heartbreaking death of their 62-year-old relative, who police said was found frozen and emaciated inside his mobile home last weekend.
According to WJRT-TV, police found Arnoul Jaros dead in his below-freezing home in Saginaw County on the afternoon of Feb. 15.
Jaros’ family described him as a “recluse” who also suffered from extreme social anxiety. “Arnie,” as his family called him, rarely interacted with anybody and had not held a formal job since his 20s, his family told MLive.
Karina Jaros told MLive that her uncle was fiercely independent and avoided situations where he would have to interact with people — even, on occasion — his family members. He displayed obsessive-compulsive behaviors and, according to police, did not have a phone of any sort.
Saginaw County man froze to death in home, police confirm https://t.co/ldtUpEjlQY
— MLive (@MLive) February 17, 2020
Last weekend, the Jaros family knocked on Arnie’s door to invite him to dinner, but he did not answer. This behavior was normal for Jaros, whom family said lived very quietly, often tiptoeing around his own house so people would not hear him.
But when the family saw that mail had been piling up since mid-January, they knew something was wrong and called the police.
“They went inside. They were inside for just a few minutes and they came out and told us they found him frozen to death. That’s what they said to us,” Karina Jaros told WJRT.
The thermostat inside Arnie’s house read 26 degrees, colder than it was outside. As the family walked around his home, they were brought to tears over how their loved one had been living, suffering in silence until his death.
The water in the toilet was frozen — even the dish soap was frozen. Evidence of empty tuna fish cans, lunch meat and soup cans suggested Jaros had been surviving off cold food with no heat or running water for a long time.
“He’s very, very skinny. He didn’t have a lot of fat to live on, and if you can’t cook, can’t take a hot shower, can’t microwave anything to eat or drink, eating cold foods, there’s no words,” Karin Jaros, Arnie’s sister-in-law, told WJRT.
Dying in 26-degree cold alone was bad enough, but walking around the home and seeing how he suffered first-hand put the family in tears.https://t.co/KdWTZ3P6Z4
— WGNMorningNews (@WGNMorningNews) February 20, 2020
The family later learned that Arnie’s natural gas and electricity had been shut off for over six months due to non-payment of bills. Consumers Energy released a statement explaining that the balance was paid in July but the company never received any notice to reinstate services.
“We are currently working with local law enforcement officials to understand more about the situation and are reviewing this person’s account records. Our thoughts and sympathies go out to this person’s friends and loved ones,” the statement said in part, WJRT reported.
The Jaros family said Arnie lived a very frugal life, leaving lightbulbs unscrewed and stretching every cent. If he did not feel like answering the door, he would not, and he was often away from the home taking walks.
“You didn’t know if he was there, and he would tiptoe around,” Jerold Jaros told MLive. “Sometimes you might hear him, sometimes you might not.”
Arnie gave no inclination to his family that anything was amiss, even sending an anniversary card to his brother Jerold and his wife Karin in November.
Jaros declined any offers for help with social services, including food stamps, Social Security or disability, despite his brother’s urging.
“You can’t force yourself into someone’s home. He’s been that way his whole life, so it’s not like there was a change in his behavior,” Karin Jaros told MLive.
“It’s not like, ‘Oh, he’s not answering anymore,’ that’s just how he’s always been.”
Jaros’ tragic death is bringing the realities of mental illness to the surface.
“He wouldn’t do anything. I was hopeful that we could help him with that and get him some sort of behavioral health interventions to help him with that anxiety, but I know that’s a real hard step for people to take,” Karin Jaros said.
Our thoughts are with the Jaros family during this time.
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