Homeowners concerned about abandoned homes in neighborhood

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) Tuesday an autopsy will be performed on the third body found in one Indianapolis neighborhood.

Over the weekend, police found the remains of 49-year-old Edna Wilson near the intersection of 20th and Columbia. Wilson is the third African American women either killed or dumped in the area since June.

Monday, 24-Hour News 8 learned the bodies of the other two women were severely decomposed. The coroner said she was not able to figure out a cause of death for 56 year-old Loy Ofsthon or 45-year-old Selese Goss.

As police continue to investigate the deaths, people living in the area said they want to see change. They’re focusing on the neighborhood’s overgrown lots and vacant houses.

Since 2007, the city has demolished nearly 2000 vacant and abandoned homes through the Re-build Indy program, but there’s still many more that sit empty and boarded up.

People who live near them said they are not only an eyesore, but becoming dumping grounds and easy spots for criminal activity.

“I’m very concerned. There’s a lot of hiding places. All these trees and stuff,” said an Indianapolis homeowner.

He didn’t want to be identified. He said it’s not because he’s embarrassed about the abandoned house next door, but his fears and frustration about the number of them in his neighborhood.

He lives on the city’s east side in the of 24th and Arsenal. In a three block radius of his home, 24-Hour News 8 counted six homes all boarded up.

“It makes me feel bad. They use to sell dope over at that house. I’m glad that’s out of there now,” he said.

Indianapolis spokesperson Marc Lotter said the city has been working to take care of the problem.

“Abandoned homes are bad for our neighborhoods; they attract crime, they lower property values and it’s something that’s very serious that has to be taken care of,” Lotter said.

Lotter said earlier this year, the city received a federal grant for 6 and a half million dollars to take down additional abandoned homes. But, he says getting them down isn’t that easy.

“It is a problem because obviously the individual property owner do have rights so unless a property becomes structurally unsound and poses a public safety risk that way, there’s really not a lot we can do until the property comes in to our possession,” said Lotter.

Kenneth Griffin lives near the neighborhood where police found two bodies this summer and one last week. He said there is a way to prevent the criminal activity.

“You have to know your neighbors and communicate with each other,” he said.

Griffin said you have to take pride in your neighborhood.

“If you don’t care about your neighborhood who will,” he said.

Lotter said if there’s an abandoned house in your neighborhood and suspicious activity taking place on the property call the Mayor’s Action Center or police if you think there’s criminal activity taking place.

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