We talked to someone who cleans crime scenes for a living
It's not everyday you get to talk to someone who lives in a real world NCIS, cleaning up the gruesome crime scenes and decomposing bodies. We sat down with Nick Hodgon, owner of Crime Scene Cleaners Inc., to discuss the true, unglamorous side of cleaning up bodies. And no, it's not as cool as NCIS and CSI make it out to be.
How do people respond when you tell them what you do?
It’s really just a deluge of questions. Usually the first question I get is, ‘How the hell did someone get into that?’ My canned answer usually is that I moved to CO looking for something I could do on my own. I wanted to start my own company. My brother knew a guy in California that started Crime Scene Cleaners. He had got the idea from Pulp Fiction - from Harvey Keitel’s character. So I went out there and spent time with the guys, shadowed him, saw what they did and came back and bought the truck and chemicals. I had to go through all the courses and training of course, but thought I’d start it up for no other reason than for the stories.
What are some of the toughest problems you face on the job?
Sometimes the logistics of getting a decomposed body that’s so badly decomposed into the floor and duct works just getting that out of there.
What do you do, just come in and rip up the floor?
Well, what separates us from remediation companies, these big huge nationwide companies, is they’ll come in and want to gut the entire place out and charge the insurance company. What we do is we clean it; and most of the time we don’t even reach the deductible. We come in and clean it out to present the family a safe place to go back in and take back possession of their property as quickly as possible. The end result is to help these families get on with their lives in the worst possible time that they’re living in.
Has being in this profession changed your perception of people?
You know it’s… it’s amazing to see how some people live. To see some of the conditions they’re willing to live in. Again though, we see these people at their worst possible times. Some people are depressed or slipped into deep depression for weeks, months at a time, and that unfortunately leaves for pretty squalor conditions some times. There’s a lot of hoarding, not taking care of themselves or their surroundings. Again that’s what we’re there to do though, is to clean up after the trauma, and allow for others to go on with their lives.
How long does a new hire usually last?
Actually I’ve only hired four people in the decade I’ve been around. People stick around. People love doing this. Funny enough, I’ve got my truck with my phone number on the side, and I literally get phone calls once a week seeing if I’m hiring.
Are those crime scene shows good indicators of what really happens?
No, no. People watch those CSI shows and I think they think that it’s a little more glamorous work than what it really is. One thing you don’t get on a TV, you don’t get the smell. Truly the smell of the stuff is the underestimated sense, right? It’s the thing you don’t think about until you walk into a room and it buckles your knees.