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Neighbors Worry About Vermin Stampede When Berwyn Home Is Torn Down

A squalid home in Berwyn – where a 14-year-old boy died and hundreds of animals were living in filthy cages – is set to be torn down, but first officials are spraying, baiting and spreading poison to minimize the chances of a stampede of vermin from inside the home once demolition begins. (Credit: CBS)

A squalid home in Berwyn – where a 14-year-old boy died and hundreds of animals were living in filthy cages – is set to be torn down, but first officials are spraying, baiting and spreading poison to minimize the chances of a stampede of vermin from inside the home once demolition begins. (Credit: CBS)

Mike Parker Mike Parker
Mike Parker has been a general assignment reporter for CBS 2 Chicago...
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BERWYN, Ill. (CBS) – A Berwyn home where a child died and hundreds of animals were confiscated is due to be torn down. But CBS 2 cameras caught countless rodents roaming the property and some neighbors worry that tearing the place down could send the vermin scurrying closer to them.

CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports that Berwyn officials plan to soon tear down the house that some called a “house of horrors” at 2834 Lombard Av. and neighbors are glad it’s about to disappear.

“It’s a bad eyesore there and when I see it, I’m going to think about what had happened,” said neighbor Marian Sahlin.

What happened was the pneumonia death of 14-year-old Matthew Degner, who lived there with four siblings, his mother Lydia and her aging mother Barbara. Lydia is now facing neglect charges in her son’s death.

Authorities have said that living conditions in the house were awful. The building had no running water and hundreds of animals were living in filthy cages throughout the place. They have said there was animal waste everywhere.

Two weeks later, rats, mice and cockroaches were still being found inside. Will they invade the neighborhood after the house is torn down?

“Once they tear it off, all the roaches and rats that are in this house are just going to … where else are they going to go?” neighbor Horacio Hernandez said.

A local pest control expert said an invasion is possible.

“Any time you start banging on the walls to knock the walls down, these animals are going to be driven out and they’re going to scatter,” said Keith Chiero, with KC Pest Control.

Berwyn’s buildings department said that workers have been spraying, baiting and spreading poison inside and outside the house to minimize the chances of a pest stampede once the demolition begins. They’re confident it’ll work.

“I hope they do that,” Sahlin said. “I mean, that would be the right thing to do, because why should we have to deal with it afterwards.”

Chiero said the decision to do intense fumigation before demolishing the house is the smart thing.

A court hearing is scheduled early next month to set a tear down date.