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1 year later: Site of record hoarding case demolished, death investigation remains open and active

The case turned out to be one of Denver’s worst cases of hoarding, according to Environmental Health officials.

DENVER — Questions are still lingering in the case of a Denver man who was found dead in his own living room more than a year after he was first declared missing. 

As the death investigation of Charles Frary remains “active,” 9Wants to Know interviewed the city’s new police chief - who, before his promotion, was the commander of the district where Frary lived and died - for the first time to ask questions about what the agency describes as an “open” investigation.

RELATED: BLAME 2: A year after he was reported missing, Denver man found dead in own living room

“This is a tragedy you know, from my perspective. We all need to take responsibility for this,” Chief Paul Pazen said. “We as a society need to do more. We are responsible for taking care of our family, our friends, our neighbors. That’s what we want out of this.”

A year after 9Wants to Know began investigating the case, the home that once belonged to Charles Frary has been demolished. A demolition crew knocked down the home on Feb. 12 to make way for a new house at the corner of 50th and Tennyson. 

“It’s sad that Chuck had to die alone,” neighbor Kristi Petersen said. “He had estranged himself from the family, more than the family estranged him. It’s sad, but it's going to become a new home for a family someday.” 

In a series of reports titled "BLAME: Lost at Home," 9Wants to Know uncovered extreme delays in solving the missing persons case. Some of the delays were spelled out in a Denver Department of Public Health and Environment report that detailed communication breakdowns between the department and Denver police. Those delays prolonged the search for Frary, as his remains were still in his home.  

The first time Denver Police heard concerns about Chuck was on Feb. 4, 2017, when his neighbor called 911. 

“I’d hate for a year to go by and someone discovers this guy is dead - this guy died in his house,” Cheryl Lanaster told a 911 dispatch operator. 

The missing person’s case wasn’t officially opened until Frary’s children reported their father missing 10 days later.

“It’s kind of hard to know what happened,” daughter Susan Frary told 9Wants to Know in 2018. “Maybe if we would have found him a year ago, maybe we would have had more information on what happened.” 

The medical examiner couldn’t come to a conclusion on how Frary died because his remains were so deteriorated. 

As part of the "BLAME: Lost at Home" series, Frary’s children expressed the frustration of trying to connect with their father who pushed them away because of his mental illnesses. 

“His hoarding was more important than us, for sure,” son Brian Frary said.

The Frary family has recently told 9Wants to Know they “want to move on from all of this” and thanked 9NEWS for “shedding a light on the problem of hoarding and mental illness.” 

The case turned out to be one of Denver’s worst cases of hoarding, according to Environmental Health officials. 

It became clear through city records that police and health officials were overwhelmed with the degree of hoarding. 

Credit: Frary family

9Wants to Know examined police and health department records that showed police visited the home several times and even documented their strong suspicion that Frary was likely buried under piles of debris in his living room. 

However, their concerns were not properly communicated to Environmental Health, the records revealed. 

Chief Pazen speaks for the first time on 'active' case 

Because the autopsy report didn’t have a determination of Frary’s death, police say the case will remain open indefinitely. 

“We are continuing to have the case open. If evidence of a crime comes forward, years from now, it protects the integrity of the investigation," Pazen told 9Wants to Know. 

Police have commented on the case, but will not release some documents from their investigation because the case is still active. 

Throughout the series "BLAME: Lost at Home," 9Wants to Know identified a man who knew Frary was likely dead in his home and alerted his family. That man, Michael Galusha, has an extensive criminal history and is currently in jail in Adams County on un-related crimes. 

Credit: KUSA

He is not a suspect in the Frary death investigation. Denver Police said they spoke with Galusha about his connection to Frary, but that interview didn’t change the status of the case.  

Galusha denied knowing Frary and told 9Wants to Know he was just interested in a car that was parked on the property. He contacted Frary’s children to inquire about the car. 

Chief Pazen said the goal of the police department is to broaden their scope to do more to help people like Frary. 

“A death is a death. It’s a tragedy for a family in a violent crime, in a traffic accident, as a result of a drug overdose or as a result of suicide. Mental health challenges often impact these types of issues,” Pazen said. “We want to insure that we are doing everything possible to reduce those social harms that cause a negative impact on our community.” 

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