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Akron police investigating bizarre death of squatter, found hanging from window of vacant house

Posted at 4:49 PM, Jun 28, 2017

Akron police are investigating the bizarre death of a man, identified by his family as a squatter.

Benjamin Holly, 53, was found Tuesday morning hanging from a first-floor window of a vacant house on Lane Street.

A Habitat for Humanity worker, who had come to the house to remove scrap metal for resale, made the grim discovery shortly after 9 a.m.

Holly's family believes he was trying to crawl into the house when his belt or shorts got caught on the window and he was suspended slightly above the ground.

The Summit County Medical Examiner said foul play is not suspected and there were no signs of anything around his neck. His cause of death is pending toxicology testing.

"I feel bad about it because I did all I could for him," said his brother Frank Holly who identified the body.

Frank said Benjamin had repeated offers to stay with family, but he struggled with alcohol and kept returning to the vacant house even though he realized it was scheduled to be torn down.

News 5 was on the scene when the house was demolished Wednesday morning.

"It's terrible that he chose, this is where he chose to be at," Frank Holly said. "I loved him."

Lt. Rick Edwards said Akron police respond to nuisance calls at vacant houses daily, which often include reports of copper thefts, but said he's never seen a case quite like what happened on Lane Street.

Edwards also pointed out that Habitat for Humanity found Benjamin Holly in the same house with some of his property last week and told him to stay out.

"We just tell anybody that if you see the vacant house — obviously you know it in your neighborhood — and you see people hanging out either going inside or outside, to please call the police," Edwards said.

Akron firefighters also suspect that many of their arsons are set by people who break into vacant houses.

Claude Broden, the victim's cousin, said he can only wish Benjamin Holly didn't lose his life the way he did.

"This was a tragedy," Broden said. "It hurts. That's my friend. That's my cousin. I'm gonna really miss him."