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updated: 10/13/2010 7:28 PM

Court-ordered cleanup of Schaumburg home gets under way

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  • John Wuerffel talks to a social worker Wednesday morning as a crew from Junk King remove items from his house, backyard, and front yard on Hampton Lane in Schaumburg.

      John Wuerffel talks to a social worker Wednesday morning as a crew from Junk King remove items from his house, backyard, and front yard on Hampton Lane in Schaumburg.
    George LeClaire

  • Workers from Junk King remove items Tuesday from John Wuerffel's front yard and home on Hampton Lane in Schaumburg. The work is being done as part of a court-ordered cleanup.

      Workers from Junk King remove items Tuesday from John Wuerffel's front yard and home on Hampton Lane in Schaumburg. The work is being done as part of a court-ordered cleanup.
    George LeClaire

  • Junk King workers remove items from John Wuerffel's home on Hampton Lane in Schaumburg. The work is being done as part of a court-ordered cleanup.

      Junk King workers remove items from John Wuerffel's home on Hampton Lane in Schaumburg. The work is being done as part of a court-ordered cleanup.
    George LeClaire

  • John Wuerffel looks on Wednesday as workers from Junk King remove items from his home on Hampton Lane in Schaumburg as part of a court-ordered cleanup.

      John Wuerffel looks on Wednesday as workers from Junk King remove items from his home on Hampton Lane in Schaumburg as part of a court-ordered cleanup.
    George LeClaire

  • John Wuerffel's backyard in he 1400 block of Hampton Lane in Schaumburg as workers just started the cleanup effort Wednesday.

      John Wuerffel's backyard in he 1400 block of Hampton Lane in Schaumburg as workers just started the cleanup effort Wednesday.
    George LeClaire

  • John Wuerffel talks to a caseworker as crew members from Junk King remove items from his house, backyard, and front yard on Hampton Lane in Schaumburg on Wednesday.

      John Wuerffel talks to a caseworker as crew members from Junk King remove items from his house, backyard, and front yard on Hampton Lane in Schaumburg on Wednesday.
    George LeClaire

  • John Wuerffel talks to a caseworker Wednesday as workers from Junk King remove items from his house, backyard, and front yard on Hampton Lane in Schaumburg.

      John Wuerffel talks to a caseworker Wednesday as workers from Junk King remove items from his house, backyard, and front yard on Hampton Lane in Schaumburg.
    George LeClaire

  • Workers with Junk King began removing plastic, cardboard and other rubbish from the Schaumburg home of John Wuerffel on Wednesday morning.

      Workers with Junk King began removing plastic, cardboard and other rubbish from the Schaumburg home of John Wuerffel on Wednesday morning.
    George LeClaire

  • John Wuerffel gathers recycled items he is trying to save as workers from Junk King remove items from his house, backyard, and front yard on Hampton Lane in Schaumburg

      John Wuerffel gathers recycled items he is trying to save as workers from Junk King remove items from his house, backyard, and front yard on Hampton Lane in Schaumburg
    George LeClaire

  • John Wuerffel, foreground, watches Wednesday morning as workers from Junk King remove items from his house, backyard, and front yard on Hampton Lane in Schaumburg.

      John Wuerffel, foreground, watches Wednesday morning as workers from Junk King remove items from his house, backyard, and front yard on Hampton Lane in Schaumburg.
    George LeClaire

  • Workers with Junk King remove items from John Wuerffel's front yard and home on Hampton Lane in Schaumburg.

      Workers with Junk King remove items from John Wuerffel's front yard and home on Hampton Lane in Schaumburg.
    George LeClaire

  • John Wuerffel gathers recycled items that he is trying to save as workers from Junk King remove items from his house, backyard, and front yard on Hampton Lane in Schaumburg.

      John Wuerffel gathers recycled items that he is trying to save as workers from Junk King remove items from his house, backyard, and front yard on Hampton Lane in Schaumburg.
    George LeClaire

  • Video: The cleanup begins

 
By Joel Ebert

Cleanup crews removing tons of cardboard boxes, plastic and rubbish Wednesday from the Schaumburg home of John Wuerffel stumbled upon a handgun, two rifles, and two shotguns inside the house, landing the 62-year-old squatter in jail.

Wuerffel, who spent the summer living in his driveway because of all the junk inside, was arrested on charges of not having a valid Firearm Owners Identification Card, Schaumburg police Sgt. John Nebl said.

"We did not find any record of him ever having one, Nebl said.

Wuerffel, of the 1400 block of Hampton Lane, spent about three hours in jail before posting $100 bond and going free.

While no bullets were found inside the home and the guns were not loaded, the misdemeanor charge is punishable by up to a year in jail and $2,500 fine. A court date has been set for Nov. 8 in Rolling Meadows.

Before his arrest, Wuerffel was conducting his own cleanup alongside the village effort, loading a rented truck with recyclable materials he plans to store and later sell.

The dual efforts clashed at times, as Wuerffel protested that workers from cleanup contractor Junk King were tossing out some personal items, including a custom pool cue, a foot massager and several articles of clothing.

Schaumburg police, as well as village staff and as many as four social workers, were monitoring the process.

"Obviously this is a stressful situation for Mr. Wuerffel and we are just here to insure the peace, Nebl said.

The six-member Junk King crew, hired by the village last week, began removing items at 9 a.m. and within an hour already had filled one of three trucks on the scene. Unopened boxes, clothing, and furniture some of which was infested by mice was left behind, Schaumburg Public Health Officer Mary Passaglia said.

After the interior was cleared, workers cleaned the driveway, which was covered with recyclable items Wuerffel intended to load into his truck, until his arrest. In all, seven trucks were filled with material found both inside and outside Wuerffel's home. Although Junk King owner Dave Raap hoped to be finish the job on Wednesday, the cleaning will resume Thursday morning, as the backyard and garage remain cluttered.

Until his arrest Wuerffel and a homeless friend named Jonathan Pascolini spent the morning packing a truck with recyclable items they hope to sell. When the truck arrived Wednesday morning, it already was partially full with tires, cans, bottles and cardboard.

Village building inspectors will go into the home after the cleanup is complete probably Friday and determine whether it is livable.

The residence, Wuerffel's home since 1971, had been declared uninhabitable by officials because of the accumulation of junk inside, as well as the shut off its utilities. Unable to live in his home, Wuerffel spent the summer living inside one of three inoperable cars that had been stored on its driveways. Wuerffel planned to spend the fall and winter living in local homeless shelters, but was recently banned from a PADS shelter, he said.

A jury found Wuerffel guilty in early September of violating village ordinances requiring the inside and outside of homes to be kept clean and free of rubbish. The ruling led to a court order permitting the village to clean up the residence.

At his trial, Wuerffel said he has been out of work for more than six years and makes $1,000 a month by redeeming recyclable items for money in Michigan.

The house has been in foreclosure proceedings, though HSBC Corp. put them on hold as it reviews the case. Wuerffel said his goal is to work with the bank to be able to keep his home and eventually move back inside.

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