AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money

This is why dead bodies wind up in Atlanta's abandoned homes

Police suspect foul play in the case of two dead bodies found Wednesday in abandoned house near downtown Atlanta, once again demonstrating the hazards these empty properties pose to neighborhoods.

Dead bodies are no rare occurrence in the abandoned properties west of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the new home of the Atlanta Falcons. Some are squatters who died of chronic health problems or addicts who overdosed. In one case, two decomposing bodies found in a home a couple of miles west belonged to women who were strangled months apart.

Others are murder victims who were killed elsewhere and dumped, as in the case of a dismembered woman found in a vacant lot near Joseph E. Boone Boulevard.

"They’re thinking that because of the neglect of the neighborhood, the body won’t be found for a time," said state Rep. Mable Thomas, who lives down the street from where the bodies were found Wednesday. "But in actuality you have a good chance of finding a body in our neighborhood because in our area, people are walking up and down all the time."

As with other cases, the house where the bodies were found Wednesday is owned by an investment company. Mikael Properties LLC's mailing address is in Buckhead near Phipps Plaza, according to property and state business records. The Jones Avenue house has changed hands a half-dozen or so times since 2005. Back then, it was worth more than $123,000. It was sold to Mikael in 2015 for $26,000. (We're trying to reach a representative of its owner.)

Unlike other cases, this abandoned property's exterior is well maintained. Nuisance homes stand out on Jones Avenue, which is one of the nicest streets in English Avenue, and residents call code enforcement when a house is poorly maintained. But there were no complaints listed in the city's online code enforcement database. The lawn is mowed, and Thomas said the house's windows and doors had been boarded and locked up. The locks even look new, she said.

"This was not a problem house," she said.

Police are checking some of the 60 or so surveillance cameras that have recently been installed in the neighborhood. Thomas was wary of the cameras when they were proposed because of concerns over privacy.

"With this situation here we might be able to see more clearly whether or not cameras are able to catch anything," Thomas said.

Now, though, Thomas has more immediate concerns. The house's front door remained open after police left the scene. Police said the door was open when they arrived and they had trouble securing it.

Thomas pulled it closed at lunchtime to keep vagrants from entering, but the lock remains broken.






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