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Family Makes Shocking Discovery Behind Walls During Home Renovations

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AUBURN -- The Bretzius family were just trying to add some insulation to a room in their home in Schuylkill County, but instead they found the home was already insulated with dozens of dead animal carcasses, half-used spices, and other items filled behind layers of drywall.

"We were shocked, horrified, and disgusted," said Kajia Bretzuis.

The mother of four said they first found animals in the walls back in 2012 and have been removing the items ever since.

The dead animals were all wrapped in old newspapers from the 1930s and 40s.

She said when they got a home inspection before they bought the place in Auburn, the inspector didn't find a thing.

"We got the radon inspection. We looked for everything. We didn't know to look for chickens."

The family said when they bought the house in 2011, it was their dream home because they weren't going to have to do any work, but now that's all they've been doing.

"It has been horrifying because it has completely drained our savings," said Bretzuis.

The horror in the wall isn't covered by insurance since the stuff was there before they bought the policy.

The family had to fix the issue and pay for it themselves, costing around $20,000.

After the family removed the items, they wanted some answers. They sent hundreds of the artifacts and carcasses to an expert in Kutztown. Now the Bretzius family might know why someone would put such crazy things inside a wall.

"What they call pow-wowing or dutch magic. They used this to heal ailments," said Bretzius.

But knowing why the stuff was there doesn't make it any easier.

The mold caused almost everyone in the family to get sick and the smell won't go away.

The family isn't even sure if all of the dead animals are out of the house.

Bretzius said, "We don't have the finances or the resources to rip out the tub wall where they're still there."

The family says it still needs to tear out some more walls to check for any more dead animals.

Since insurance won't cover it and they've run out of money, they started a go fund me account.

 

52 comments

  • Todd Graybill

    Joe,
    What’s your point? You’re financial situation may have been totally different than these individuals. As for “hard working people”, Mr. Bretzius works a full-time job plus as much overtime as they will allow him. Mrs. Bretzius has worked since the age of sixteen until she lost her job a few months ago due to medical problems. From 2011 to February 2014 they never sought assistance but struggled to pay everything through their hard-earned money. It wasn’t until a catastrophic combination of major medical expenses, major home repair expenses (Necessary for the health of the family) and the loss of major income that they finally appealed for assistance. No one is knocking on your door asking for money, so why must you be so hateful about someone else who admits they need some voluntary help after they’ve made their best effort to do it themselves? Some of the negative people may believe you are simply looking for sympathy and/or praise yourself by publicly posting about your problems. Isn’t it amazing how a different spin on perspective can change everything?

    • Joe Conrad

      Actually our financial situation is totally different so at least you got one point correct!!! My 80 yr old mother is collecting SSI and due to a child hood accident I was not as blessed to have the ability to work and collect SSI. Our combined income does not put us in any advantage above these people. BUT we made it work and did what we could when we could and NEVER relied on other people and knew it was OUR responsibility not other peoples. We took out a loan to cover the cost not hand outs. This generation has the entitlement mentality and expect other people to bail them out instead of doing it themselves. You can defend them all you want but all they are looking for is a hand out and nothing more…. They are no better than the auto industry looking for a hand out… and never have to pay it back… Free money and nothing more. Take out a loan not beg people for money. If your such a great person to defend these people put YOUR money where your mouth is and GIVE THEM THE MONEY……

      • Todd Graybill

        You seem to be a very bitter individual. You had chosen to deal with your situation in one manner and that’s admirable, but just because these individuals are finally resorting to asking for some assistance after several years of trying to handle the situation themselves doesn’t make them wrong. The same argument you are making against these decent people could apply directly to you and your mother…both of whom take government assistance to which you obviously feel entitled. So, in reality, you are depending upon other people to assist you and your mother by supporting the Social Security System with their tax dollars. The only difference is that the people who support you and your mother have no choice but to pay taxes to Social Security whereas the people who offer to assist these individuals are making the decision to do so voluntarily. Just to clarify, I am not opposed to your mother nor you receiving Social Security benefits because that’s the purpose of the program; however, it seems somewhat hypocritical to vilify these individuals for receiving voluntary assistance from people who are willing to give them money when you yourself benefit from money being given to you. Once again, these individuals did not approach you in any manner, you aren’t required to give them money, no one has personally solicited you for their cause, so before you criticize these individuals for receiving voluntary assistance, perhaps instead you should be grateful to those individuals who are supporting you and your mother. In regards to your final comments, I never referred to myself as a “great person” nor do I perceive myself as one…I simply am defending a family who was unjustifiably attacked by individuals who either didn’t bother to learn the facts before they posted their negative comments or who feel the need to attack these individuals when in fact their situation doesn’t (logically) affect them in any manner. Additionally, since I first defended them yesterday morning, I contacted Ms. Bretzius and met with her for the first time to ask for further clarification on her situation. Upon learning the facts, I have already offered to assist the family however I am able to do so.

  • Joe Conrad

    To many people expect hand outs…. Looking to make a fast buck and not have to work for it…
    We own our home and wanted to paint our kitchen that is the only thing we planned for. Except it didn’t go as planned and discovered mold under the kitchen cabinets. The previous owner decided duck tape was the cure all and used it to seal a leaking drain pipe under the sink. It was covered with a new plywood base covering up the tape and it must have been leaking for a long time and mold grew. What was suppose to be a few gallons of paint ended up being a full remodel replacing all the walls, flooring, cabinets and the rental of a commercial dehumidifier that added $100.00 a month to our electric bill to dry out the house and kill the mold.
    BUT….. we didn’t go public and expect other hard working people to pay for our $15000.00 plus repair…. We did what we could and made it happen. Oh by the way….. my 80 yr old mother suffered from health issues due to the mold her bedroom was right above the kitchen and ended up redoing her room because the mold traveled up the wall.
    AGAIN… WE DID NOT BEG FOR A HAND OUT or EXPECT OTHER PEOPLE TO PAY FOR REPAIRS ….

  • Kaija Bretzius.

    Thank you Todd for coming to my home today and telling me the amazing story you have come across that explains how these items ever got in our walls. I have been surrounded by the positives since our story aired and didn’t realize there were so many negative things being said. But I’d be happy to answer questions as they come up!
    For instance, we only wished to put insulation in the walls (from the outside in) We never had plans of gutting half of our house. We had plans to finance that job. Had a company give us an estimate, but didn’t get it done because we had to gut the upstairs of the left side of the home instead. The Nursery was newly remodeled for the coming of the baby, and everything in it had to be ripped out. It wasn’t that we tried to make our home prettier and ran out of money. Our house was nice, and we just wanted to make it warmer through a insulating company.
    Medical expenses we have incurred were majorly unexpected too. Before we knew we had this problem, our baby actually suffered from 2 seizures from uncontrolled fevers. Despite doctors efforts, nothing seemed to bring his 105 fevers down for more than a few hours at most. At age 4 months I weaned him from breast milk and he began sleeping in the nursery where the unknown debris was. At this time, he became unhealthy, and we didn’t know why. The doctors could see his ears were typically red and inflamed, could measure his temperature, but found the antibiotics and Tylenol/motrin were ineffective in bringing his temperature down. At age 9 months he had 2 seizures. The ambulance ride was not covered, 400.00 and still paying on that. The ER visit was 2,000.00 (the deductible amount.)
    Barrett was almost a year old was when we discovered what was making him sick. The old weighted-type window construction was still intact around the windows and his window unit air conditioner was vibrating the contaminants right into his sleeping area.
    He became a healthy, seizure-free kid when he wasn’t sleeping in that room anymore. It was such a quick recovery from the constant fevers, we noticed almost immediate improvement.
    Levi has asthma, at 21 months, he is our youngest and has been on inhaled corticosteroids for over a year now. I blame the poor air quality, as none of the other kids, nor Bryan or myself have asthma. His monthly medications we 250.00 a month last year, another unplanned expense. This year, we did opt for a better level of health insurance coverage, but had to wait for the new year and open enrollment to do that.
    What other questions may I answer?

    • Todd Graybill

      Kaija, thank you for having me into your home and your hospitality. I would like to stress that although we just met today, you were totally open and honest about everything you had experienced, had both physical and pictorial proof of the mold, carcasses and debris found within your walls, answered any and all questions I had without hesitation, and provided highly reasonable and believable explanations for everything. It’s just frustrating to see how many people are willing to immediately attack and be negative toward issues they don’t understand. You are a very pleasant and nice person and I only wish the best for you and your family.
      Todd Graybill

  • Kaija Bretzius.

    My name is Kaija Bretzius. This house is under the name Kaktins because it is my maiden name and we bought the home before we were married. I married Bryan Bretzius, and took his name. The deed is still listed under my maiden name Kaktins. We do own this home.

  • Todd Graybill

    It’s amazing the quantity of individuals who criticize without knowing the facts. First, this house is in Auburn, the family does reside there, and the property does not have to be in their name. Secondly, whether they own the home or rent to own, they can be the party responsible for a remodel project. I’ve already rented (NOT rent to own) a house and wanted to make some unnecessary improvements that I personally desired so I offered to pay for the work if the landlord would give me permission to make the changes to his home. Third, I’ve viewed the broadcasts and read the articles and nowhere did I see where it definitively stated that the mold/smell/sickness was caused by the carcasses. If the old house developed a leak, the moisture could have caused the mold which in turn caused the odors and sickness. The carcasses were found simply when the wall were being torn out due to the mold problem. Fourth, although the articles did state the carcasses are being found in multiple locations, it never said the carcasses were the reason why the majority of walls needed to be removed (which could be due to mold…which is known to cause severe illnesses and even fatalities in some cases). The family had no reason to expect a major remodeling expense because not only did the house appear cosmetically in good condition but they were further reassured by a building inspector who may, or may not, have done an adequate job at the time of the inspection in 2011. The concept that a homeowner should know how to drywall is just foolish. Not only is this a skill that the majority of homeowners do not possess but many homeowners would be physically incapable of undertaking such a task since a large percentage of homeowners are of an advanced age. They also never stated that they were purchasing $20,000 worth of drywall but that the project to remove the moldy drywall and replace it could cost $20,000…which could include the expense of having specialists remove the dangerous mold and dispose of it properly. The person who stated that they didn’t see any mold in any of the pictures is assuming that for some inexplicable reason the homeowners would keep the dangerous mold in the house in which they were living just so they could show the news broadcasters if they should decide to do a broadcast. Does that mean that someone who suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning due to a defective furnace shouldn’t air out the house or repair the furnace in the house in which they live just so they can “prove” to a doubter that the problem existed? To also blame the prior home owner for not disclosing the problem is foolish…the carcasses were in the walls for decades. The house could have gone through numerous ownerships and the prior owners may have never even known that the carcasses were present, so how could they disclose something they had no knowledge of? Additionally, this family did budget to purchase a home they reasonably believed was in good condition. They didn’t have any reason to expect the purchase would lead to major repair costs or numerous medical expenses. Additionally, it not like they are seeking money to build a deck or put in an in-ground swimming pool…they just need help repairing their home to make it safe for them and their children to live in. It’s sad that there are so many bitter and irrationally suspicious individuals in this world. On a side note, I spoke to an elderly resident who know the individual who placed the carcasses in the walls back in the 1930s. He confirmed that the man did practice “pow-wow” and white magic, plus recalled the man owned a book titled the “Seventh Book of Moses” which is related to these types of practices. I hope this family remains in good health and I hope those individuals who have compassion and the ability to spare some money assist them in their plight.

    • Linda

      Thanks for the info Todd. It is always better to have more info than bits and pieces. So now in my mind this is more creditable a story. Only thing that still is a small issue to me. (I work with Real Estate law) If the property isn’t in these people’s names, they legally don’t own it. So why don’t the people who’s names it is in, the legal owners, help? I don’t know maybe it’s just another not enough info factor, and the property is owned by one partner in the relationship with a different name. Oh well, I hope they get the house repaired and all keep healthy. Good luck to them.

      • Todd Graybill

        You’re welcome, Linda. Unfortunately, I don’t know the answer to your question so I can’t provide you any additional information on that point. I, too, wondered if the property might simply be in the other partner’s (different) last name. I am hoping to visit these individuals in the near future so maybe I’ll learn more then. Thank you for the civil and reasonable response.

      • Todd Graybill

        P.S. As an after-thought, it doesn’t help the situation that some of the journalist felt the need to sensationalize the story by calling the discovery “horrific”…perhaps “shocking” I could see but I don’t believe most normal individuals would be “horrified” to find some dead animals in this manner.

  • Linda

    I just checked in Schuylkill County property records website to see where this property is and NO ONE with that name owns any property in Schuylkill County. If the name isn’t real, is the problem? Or did they find bones and make up a claim to get money? Maybe they have a rent to own, but if they don’t own the property it is the owners place to do the repairs. More investigation may be needed.

    • Lisa

      There are actually 3 entries in the Schuylkill County Parcel locator with that last name. 1 in Hegins & the others in .Tremont. I saw some comments about if it’s a rent to own deal the actual owner is responsible & that isn’t necessarily true. It depends on the conditions of the contract you negotiate as a purchaser.

      • Linda

        Hi Lisa, you are correct. I did see the other three entries, however they are not the same first name and the story said the property was in Auburn. Tremont and Hegins are each apx. 40 minutes drive, if not more from Auburn. You are also correct it depends on the rent to own agreement, but the story said they “own” the property. Sorry I didn’t clarify my comments more. Either way… something seems fishy and doesn’t totally add up.

    • Kaija Bretzius.

      It’s listed under Kaktins, that is my maiden name. We married less than a year after we purchased the home. My maiden name is Kaija Lynn Kaktins. I can assure you, this isn’t a scam.

      • Linda

        Hi Kaija, Thanks for filling in the missing piece. I’m sorry for the hardships your family has gone through (especially illnesses) and will include you all in my prayers. It is a shame that our world has come to a point that majority of the population (myself included) will question a story when not all the information is known, rather than take the story at face value. Take care of yourselves and I wish you and your family the best.

      • Todd Graybill

        Linda, you were by far one of the more polite and reasonable of individuals submitting their doubts. You’re questions were logical and valid but I think we both agree that Kaija has more than adequately explained all of the questions posed. Thank you for your kind submissions.
        Todd

  • Tinee

    Pow-wow goes way back I have read about it many times…if the animals have laid at rest for this many years why do you feel it necessary they be removed now? Just insulate around and press on…If there is mold then I would believe you would have more recent leaks etc. and that would fall on you, I had a pipe break last year due to extreme drought, and the plumber found a snake skin, does this mean I can have my house all redone by begging money? Or am I just responsible for my own problems? Do not try to scam please, there are many older folks that might take pity and send money they can ill afford to send you. If it is such a big deal then take the consequences and fix it yourself, if not then work around it.

    • Cindy

      I am so tired of people using every reason to get money from other people…you bought the house, why should you expect others to pay for your repairs? What ever happened to pride? Golly, I have snakes in my house from time to time….need to start an account so people can pay to have them removed for me…..and an animal wrapped in newspapers for that long amount of time, isn’t going to smell anymore…that odor is long gone…..good luck with your home..

    • Kaija Bretzius.

      If they weren’t making us ill, I would have GLADLY left everything intact. First our kids got sick from sleeping in the room. Then we did when we started the clean up, after being denied by insurance because, even though it was medically documenting-ly making us sick, Reason for denial: They were placed there before we bought it. Who would buy a house like this?? Knowing that you had this problem..Of course they were put there before we bought the policy!

      In light of what I had learned from the professionals helping us, it may have been methane poisoning contributing with mold because of the decay of flesh creates this. Dead animals, stitched into sacks, or tightly wrapped in newspaper and stuffed into an enclosed space, means methane would accumulate there as well. We have had issues with moisture in every area we have smelled them. We found them in areas we didn’t smell them. Not asking for a new house here.. Just the parts causing my family to be sick. I’m asking for help to make it better. The scale of the problem isn’t really imaginable until you see it. And have to live with it. And we have tried, and we are stuck, and are asking for help now because our kids being sick isn’t funny.

  • jenni

    You do realize that people collect and buy this stuff. I guarantee you could get thousands for it all!

    Look into it!

    You could make bank!!!

  • Lloyd Schumcatelli

    Get freakin real! Mold? There is NO WAY, NO HOW in the WORLD, mold will be caused from a dried up old carcass from the 1930s-1940s. There’s no moisture there. There wouldn’t even be a smell. Creepy? Yeah. Insurance claim? Come on. Welcome to home ownership. Inspectors can’t find everything. They don’t have x-ray vision.

  • connie troutman

    If you couldn’t smell them before you bought the house why is the odor there now and won’t go away as you stated. And if they’ve been there since the 30s&40s they’re completely decomposed. I’m not getting the big threat. What am I missing in this story?

    • Kaija Bretzius.

      Well, a lot is missing from the short segment featured on the news. I will tell you, the day I looked at the house, it was mid august.. as we entered the stairs to the second floor, I detected a slight smell (not a strong or overwhelming smell) unknown to me at that time. (I now call it “the dead chicken smell, most noticeable in the fall weather) and the very nice elderly lady who owned the house for the last almost 30 years exclaimed: “Oh! I hate it when the sewer back up!”
      I admit, I didn’t question her on that. Now, the interesting part, is the month of October the smell is really strong, It overwhelms you. Now, when you notice the date of every newspaper, you see there are different years and days, but all are from the month of October. I admit, it’s got to be from moisture, condensation, possibly wind direction, but it’s the strongest smelling in the bathroom, where there’s lots of moisture. We are two bedrooms and half a bathroom in, plus the balloon framing means our first floor has it too. We started work on the opposite side of the house, because that was the area we could see, from the pitch of the roof obscuring the bathroom on the end of the home.

  • Meechity

    GoFundMe? How about this: go after whatever home inspector who didn’t do his job, or the previous owners who didn’t disclose the Dead Animal Insulation. Asking for handouts is so damned cocky.

    • StoskysUncleStoshy

      You don’t know how a home inspection service works, do you? If you’ve bought a house, it went right over your head, didn’t it? If you’ve never bought a house, then you’ve got some learnin’ to do there, Jethro.

  • I made my bones in auburn

    Someone should do a fundraiser to help remove the bones and spices. Maybe a few of the hunting clubs, wait, wait, I know……….THEY COULD SELL T-SHIRTS………

  • Neighbor

    This was actually my aunt and uncle’s house. They lived there for close to 50 years before it was sold, but they did move in it after the critters would have been put in the walls and I can honestly say that they had no clue that any of this was there. I visited there many times growing up and they raised 4 boys and we never were sick or noticed odd smells. It must have been exposed when the walls were ripped out in construction.

  • Bob G

    I’m sorry , but anyone that doesn’t have the ability to take down and put back up drywall have no business owning a home in the first place, let alone a 90 year old one. I only have sympathy for their poor decision making skills.

    • Bren

      By the same token, no one who is unable to teach algebra, perform an emergency appendectomy, or sew a
      prom dress should have children? No one who can’t muster the wherewithal to spay or neuter their animals in the comfort of their own home should own a pet? Anyone lacking the skills to tear down an engine, rotate their tires, or replace a cracked windshield should own a vehicle? Your remark employs both faulty logic and a mean-spirited tone of superiority.

      • Bob G

        I would settle for them knowing which side of the body the appendix is on. Emergency tracheotomy would be a good idea however, given the amount of children the die of choking every year. I cant find an argument why a parent shouldn’t able able to learn any of those things.

        I cant comprehend someone asking the community for something like this before mustering the conviction to learn how to do it themselves.

        Engine work is not a good comparison, rotating the tires would be on par. No one that Couldn’t rotate their own tires should have to own a car, their lack of car knowledge would cost them dearly. To that effect , there are alot of people with the fortune to be able to afford that but there are also a lot of people with lemons who didn’t know what to look for.

        I’m sorry , but a house isn’t an appliance, its a large investment that requires maintenance and if you should you choose to own one you should have some level of competency on its construction. I’m not saying you need to be able to pour a foundation, or frame a roof, or rough in an electrical box but if you wouldn’t feel competent to put up a sheet of drywall, i don’t think you have business investing tens of thousands of dollars in a 90 year old house. For anyone to think otherwise must be in a very superior position to buy houses with little personal exposure.

    • gary

      You sir are an idiot! They are doing the renovations. They do not have the funds to purchase material and pay for the doctor bills from there kids getting sick. Why couldn’t this have happened to someone like you!

  • Dexter Morgan

    Should have patched the wall and sold it. Move the hell out instead of dumping all your savings in to a home.

    OR realize that when you but a home, you don’t know what you’re going to get yourself into when you start ripping out walls.

    Sucks, but it’s the truth.

    • gary

      Not to be rude but some people have a conscience and would not sell someone that house without disclosing that information. Therefore let’s be honest who knowing the situation would purchase that house?

    • Lindsay Marie

      You’re surprisingly literate. What you’re going to need there is a calico cat, because all calico cats are females. Now you put her in there with a string tied around her…

      • Mary

        I’d just like to comment on what Bob G said.. To say someone who can’t afford to take down and put up drywall doesn’t deserve to OWN a home… Who are you to say that? ANYONE can own a home!!! Just because they don’t have the means to do it to all their walls because they’ve already spent 20 grand of their savings doesn’t mean they shouldn’t own a home!!! Have you ever heard the saying “ROME WASNT BUILT IN A DAY”!!!! I hope this family gets some help with this horrifying discovery!!

      • mr french

        Your so cute I must share some “lore ,my good ole g.pappy was healed by one them ” magic shamans at a “ritual ,he buried bones in a yard enchanting ,incant healing spells,no kidding couple days later good ole g.pappy was healed!

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