HOUSTON — There are still no answers in a bizarre Houston mystery that has neighbors talking.
Renters were moving into a bungalow Saturday when they found human remains in an attic wall. They also found a pair of red eyeglasses similar to those worn by the previous owner, 61-year-old Mary Cerruti, the Houston Chronicle reported.
"That's terrifying and so sad. It's scary that we were right there. And we didn't know," said April Lidell, a neighbor. "It’s either an accident, an unfortunate accident, or somebody put her there."
Cerruti was reported missing two years ago after neighbors contacted police because they hadn't seen her for a while and her mail was piling up.
"I passed by there every day and I saw everything piling up," said Abbie Rangel. "For the longest time, I just thought she went out of town."
Lidell lived across the street in 2015 when firefighters went inside Cerruti’s house and found a bunch of dead cats.
“When the fire trucks were there, they said the smell was so bad in the house,” Lidell remembered. “They figured it was from the cats, because God knows how long they had been in there without food or water.”
There was no sign of the woman described by neighbors as shy, quiet and frail.
“I don’t know what more we could have done, but I wish we had,” Lidell said. “Wish we had talked to her more. I wish we would have said, ‘Hey here’s our numbers if you need anything, give us a call.’”
Neighbors say Cerruti's car remained in the driveway for a about a year after she disappeared but one day, it was gone.
Neighbors say Cerruti joined them in the fight against a luxury apartment complex planned for the land around her house. She spoke at a 2013 planning commission meeting.
"Literally this project is going to be in my backyard," Cerruti said. "I'm surrounded. And I just don't see the sense of this project. It seems like just too many apartments for such a small space."
But the project was approved and Cerruti, a divorcee who lived alone, had to contend with construction that made getting to her house more difficult. Neighbors say she rarely came out after that.
A bank foreclosed on her home in 2015 after the mortgage payments stopped. Liens on the property were settled, the house was cleaned out and it was eventually placed on the market and sold.
Police Detective Jason Fay said the new residents are now a bit worried because of the body.
"Was it someone who was killed and stuffed in the wall, or did they accidentally pass away by ending up in the wall?" Fay said.
The renters say they're not sure if they're going to stay in the house.
A medical examiner is still working to identify the remains and determine if there was any foul play.
2001: Mary Cerruti bought the bungalow at 610 Allston
2013: Cerruti joined neighbors in speaking out against a large apartment complex; they lost the battle and the complex went up behind Cerruti’s bungalow
August, 2014: Cerutti stopped paying her mortgage
February 2015: A missing person report was filed after neighbors alerted police
July 2016: Foreclosure proceedings started
March 2017: Human remains were found in the attic of Cerutti’s house