A Los Angeles woman has shared a harrowing story about how she slept feet away from her dead, decomposing neighbour’s body for around eight weeks during pandemic quarantine in her small 250 sqft studio apartment.
Reagan Baylee lived in the LA Valley when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. In a number of TikTok videos, she laid out the story of how she began to start noticing strange smells and an increase of bugs in her home.
“It was around the middle of May and I started to call my mom and tell her that I wasn’t really feeling like myself. What I meant by that was that I was having headaches, I wasn’t really sleeping through the night, I was feeling nauseous a lot,” she said.
“And honestly, we all kind of wrote it off as me just feeling a little lonely and going a little crazy during quarantine, just like everyone else was. It was really unlike me to not be able to sleep through the night, so I thought this was really strange, but again, I just wrote it off because I just thought I was really sad and depressed.”
She noticed an uptick in spiders in her home and alerted her manager, who said it was likely due to the hot weather.
“Towards the middle of May, I started to complain about a bad smell that I would get whenever there was a heavy breeze, but again, it wasn’t anything I could put my finger on. It was just something that I was smelling occasionally,” she said.
She described the smell like that of a dead fish. She said her manager was unwilling to send anyone to the building to investigate her complaints because of the pandemic.
“I had this really bad feeling something was super wrong and the smell was getting really bad every time it was windy, and I was really, really worried,” she said.
When her boyfriend came over, he described the smell as “horrific” and later experienced similar symptoms of nausea and bad sleep after staying with her.
“It’s the middle of the pandemic and we had been home 24 hours a day seven days a week, so I think I had kind of gotten used to the smell,” Ms Baylee said.
She eventually called the police to request a wellness check for one of her neighbours. “Turns out he was perfectly fine and everything was okay,” she said.
Following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, LA was in disarray, and a bad smell in a residential building was not high on the police department’s list of priorities.
“It was very hectic and honestly me complaining about a smell and some spiders was the last of anyone’s concerns, especially the police,” Ms Baylee said.
After continued efforts, the building manager finally sent out a maintenance worker who “couldn’t even make it up the stairs without starting to vomit. He ripped off his mask and he said ‘I am going to get the master key someone is dead’”.
“Things went from zero to a hundred really fast ... within a few minutes there were eight cops that were all inside my apartment gathering information, and they said they were just going to start busting down doors,” she said.
“The logical answer was to start with my neighbour who lived to the left of me because we already talked to the neighbour who lived on the right of me. And this is when the most disgusting, craziest thing happened.”
After yelling to anyone inside the apartment to come outside, one of the officers decided to check if the door was unlocked.
“So the cop twists the doorknob and he opens it maybe an inch,” Ms Baylee said. “The amount of bugs that came out of this unit, it looked like 1,000 bugs. Thousands of them, flying out of the unit. They immediately slam the door and the cops call for a ton of backup. The cops started ripping off their masks and multiple of them were throwing up over the side of the railing.”
“Long story short, they said this was the worst decomposed body they had ever come across and they see a lot of decomposed bodies,” Ms Baylee said of the police. “Not going to go too into the specifics of it, especially for the privacy of the person, but let’s just say they were liquified and they’re basically just a skeleton at this point.
“All the symptoms my boyfriend and I were experiencing were simply because of the fumes and toxins releasing from the body and natural gases that were making me extremely sick during pretty much all of quarantine. And that is the story of how I slept three feet away from my dead neighbour.”
Ms Baylee said her neighbour was a 74-year-old man whom she had spoken to enough to know that he didn’t have anyone who might check on him.
Ms Bayle said the temporary eviction moratorium in LA county was the most likely explanation why the unpaid rent wasn’t seen as something odd or worrying by the building’s manager.
The autopsy ruled out Covid-19 and said the cause of death was a heart attack. Ms Baylee said she thought this was "very sketchy because if he was liquified and truly a skeleton, like they said he was after eight weeks, then how did they determine it was a heart attack because I’m assuming his organs would have been eaten at that point”.
She moved out of the apartment that night after being informed by officers that her apartment was probably contaminated.
“The only thing separating the body and me, where I slept every night ... was this thin wall so they had said most of [the] wood furniture was already infested with bugs and they highly recommended just throwing away everything that I could.
“I was truly honestly so disgusted that I threw away 99 per cent of the things I owned and only kept keepsakes and I moved out that night, left half of my stuff on the side of the road in Los Angeles and never looked back.”
As she slept three feet away from the decomposing body, Ms Baylee said she experienced “nausea, dizziness, wasn’t sleeping through the night, headaches,” and added that she was “light-headed”.
“Literally the night I left, when they had found him, immediately all of those symptoms went away and I didn’t have any lasting effects other than just honestly having nightmares at night and not being able to sleep because I was terrified.
“But it was pretty instant, honestly the night that I moved out, everything went away, so it was obviously from all of the gases and toxins being released from his body, which is disgusting,” she said.