A former high school teacher who resorted to sleeping in her pickup truck because piles of trash that she collected blocked her from entering her Santa Ana home was found dead Tuesday night, police said.
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When firefighters arrived to the home on Rosewood Avenue, they put on hazmat suits and made their way through trash stacked 5 feet high to reach the porch where the body of 72-year-old Rita Corpin was discovered.
Police said foul play was not suspected. Corpin’s gardener found her sitting in a chair with a kitten in a carrier on her lap.
“She wouldn't sleep in the house,” said neighbor Eliva Estrada. “She slept in that Toyota because the house was a mess.”
Police said Corpin owned two other Orange County homes where officials attempted to round up three dozen feral cats. Police said the cats will be trapped and sent to animal control. Corpin also owned two dogs.
The retired high school history teacher lived alone in a truck that was parked in her driveway, police said.
Code enforcement officials said several complaints had been filed against the property and that Corpin was fined in excess of $900. In each case, officials said Corpin moved just enough trash out of view to comply with the law.
Upon learning of her death, Corpin's brother arrived to the scene devastated, saying he had not seen his sister in a week.
“She touched a lot of kids over 40 years,” David Corpin said. “Now I just want to get out of here.”
Corpin helped others, but could not help herself, her brother said.
Kate Larsen contributed to this report.