The clock is ticking for a mysteriously absent Schaumburg man to reclaim belongings from his foreclosed home -- whose recyclable value made them precious to him -- before the company that bought the property at auction is legally permitted to start renovating it.
In fact, there's still no evidence that 63-year-old John Wuerffel has even heard about the sale of the currently uninhabitable home on Hampton Lane where he once lived in his car in the driveway.
Though previously in frequent contact with Schaumburg officials, no one at the village has heard from Wuerffel since November.
Efforts by the Daily Herald to reach Wuerffel on his cellphone during the past few weeks have been unsuccessful.
Wuerffel has been summoned to a Feb. 1 court appearance that will finalize the sale of his former home, but there's no indication that he's received those notices.
But 30 days later, on March 2, Hoffman Estates-based Right Residential which bought the house for $35,000 will be able to start its renovation whether Wuerffel is in court or not, the company's Executive Vice President Christopher Shaxted said.
Right Residential has offered to help Wuerffel move his belongings wherever he wants them, but has heard "not a word" from him since the sale occurred just before Christmas, Shaxted said.
The company could move some of Wuerffel's belongings into the garage while the interior of the house is being renovated, Shaxted said.
That would buy Wuerffel some time, but not much, he added. The renovation is expected to take only about six weeks before the home would be on the market by late April.
The village of Schaumburg declared the house unfit for human habitation about two years ago, largely due to its shut-off utilities.
But Wuerffel's hoarding habit was also a factor and led to the village winning a court order in the fall of 2010 to clean up the inside and outside of the house, which it charged had become a health hazard for the neighborhood.
The house and garage were filled floor-to-ceiling with items Wuerffel claimed he planned to sell to recyclers as his only source of income. Among the items found were metal drink cans, about 30 automobile tires, an old Jaguar, a motorcycle, two bicycles, two handguns, two rifles and two shotguns.
Wuerffel received significant media attention in the Chicago area at that time.
Wuerffel, who bought the house in 1971 with his then wife, said his health began to decline in 1999 and eventually affected his ability to work.
Wuerffel has sometimes traveled out of town or spent significant periods in the hospital, but officials say they have no leads on his present whereabouts.