Reality

What ever happened to Michelle from Hoarding: Buried Alive?

A Hoarding: Buried Alive follow-up episode revealed that Michelle had fallen back into hoarding soon after the show’s intervention.

Fans who watch TLC’s reality documentary series, Hoarding: Buried Alive regularly usually tune in expecting to see homes in a state of disarray and filth.

However, the “Full of Rats” episode, which aired in the show’s fifth season takes things to a whole new level.

episode was so shocking, in fact, that it even garnered the attention of YouTube star PewDiePie in a video titled “The worst Hoarder on the Planet.”

The sad follow-up to Michelle’s story

The “Full of Rats” episode saw the Hoarding: Buried Alive team travel all the way to Tacoma to help the then 56 year-old Michelle whose bargain-hunting tendencies had landed her in over $20,000 in debt and past the point of eviction.

But in a rather surprising turn of events, the episode ended with Tony and Mark Gore (the real-estate investors who had unknowingly purchased Michelle’s home at auction) offering her the once-in-a-lifetime chance to buy her home back after it had been cleaned up.

Unfortunately, even though this original episode ended on a fairly high note – the Hoarding: Buried Alive – Last Chance follow-up episode revealed that Michelle had reverted to her hoarding ways after this episode aired.

Michelle’s Hoarders timeline

All in all, there were about two years in between when Michelle’s Hoarding: Buried Alive episode was first filmed and when the Hoarding: Buried Alive – Last Chance follow-up first aired, as follows:

Date Series Episode title
November 6, 2013 Hoarding: Buried Alive “Full of Rats”
February 8, 2015 Hoarding: Buried Alive – Last Chance “Michelle”

What happened after Hoarding: Buried Alive?

When the Hoarding: Buried Alive team returned to Michelle’s story for “Last Chance,” it was disclosed that she had once again started hoarding large amounts of so-called “bargain-buys”.

However, the Gore brothers maintained that they would allow her to continue renting the home (as she could not secure the financing to purchase it) for as long as she needed to.

There has been no official update about what happened to Michelle (or whether she managed to keep her former home) since this Last Chance update aired.

One commenter on the Hoarding Buried Alive Facebook fan-led group, who allegedly knows someone who lived near Michelle, did claim that Michelle recently passed away recently.

What ever happened to Michelle from Hoarding: Buried Alive?

But it is noteworthy that this tidbit has not officially been confirmed by anyone affiliated with the show yet.

What went wrong?

The question of why some of the Hoarding: Buried Alive interventions succeed, while others – like Michelle’s – fail, will no doubt keep scientists and fans alike puzzled for many decades to come.

However, one thing that we know for certain is that these interventions are certainly more complex behind the scenes than what we see play out on our screens.

One Reddit user, who reportedly worked in the production department of Hoarding: Buried Alive around 2012 shared in a thread that the show not only tackled the issue of cleaning up these over-filled homes, but also attempted to address the various psychological issues that likely caused the hoarding problems to begin with.

What ever happened to Michelle from Hoarding: Buried Alive?

She said  “We attempt to solve the issue from its psychological roots rather than cause unwanted traumatization that can occur from stripping someone’s belongings without their condonement.”

Overall, it is likely that Michelle’s hoarding problem was simply too severe to be addressed in such a short sitting.

The Gore brothers eventually went on to help other hoarders

It is difficult to believe that Tony and Mark Gore (the brothers who purchased the home which Michelle was living in) would ever want to go near the real estate market again after the wreck that became their Tacoma property investment.

But  this was seemingly not enough to scare the Gore brothers away from the real estate industry (or the idea of helping hoarders in their community), as they opted to start the process all over again – this time in Chilliwack.

In 2016, Pauline Jollymour and her son, Gary, who were living in a hoarder house (which had become so swamped that the Fraser Health services no longer felt safe to enter the premises), reached out to Tony and Mark after they had seen what the brothers had done for Michelle on Hoarding: Buried Alive.

This second hoarder-intervention eventually proved to be so challenging that the Gore brothers found a townhouse for Gary and Pauline to move into while they attempted to get their home all cleaned up.

The Gore brothers continue to run their real-estate investment business today (though we suspect that they screen their investments and their former owners much more carefully now).