Man found dead in home after town mandates cleanup

A man was found dead in his home on Roanoke Avenue last week. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)
A man was found dead in his Roanoke Avenue home last week. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Riverhead Town employees who had arrived at a Roanoke Avenue home last Thursday morning to demand its 72-year-old owner clean up his yard got a shock when they discovered the man had died.

Last Tuesday, the Riverhead Town Board passed a resolution authorizing the town engineering department to clean up property owned by George Atkinson under a provision of the Town Board that allows such cleanups in the event of properties that contain weeds, grass or vegetation in excess of 10 inches, as well as yard waste, rubbish, litter and garbage.

The resolution stated that Mr. Atkinson was directed “to abate the aforementioned conditions on or before Sept. 4” but had failed to do so.

The cost of the cleanup, which the resolution estimated at $1,500, would then be added to Mr. Atkinson’s tax bill.

Police Chief David Hegermiller said workers who arrived around 10 a.m. last week to clean up the property found Mr. Atkinson dead in his house.

The chief said neighbors told police they hadn’t seen him around lately.

“There was no sign of foul play,” Mr. Hegermiller said. He added that it was unknown how long Mr. Atkinson, who lived alone, had been dead.

Mr. Atkinson, 72, was a retired Riverhead Fire Department dispatcher and a volunteer with the fire department’s Eagle Hose Company. He also served in the U.S. Army from 1962 to 1964, according to his family.

He was buried today, Sept. 23, in St. John’s Cemetery.