2021-04-01 12:56:24 UTC
NYC CRIME NEW YORK
Emmy-winning set designer-turned-hoarder, missing 8 months, found dead inside Queens home under pile of debris
By CARLA ROMAN, MORGAN CHITTUM, THOMAS TRACY and LARRY MCSHANE
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS |
MAR 31, 2021 AT 10:24 PM
A long-missing Queens woman never escaped her trash-strewn home, with the hoarder’s decomposing remains found buried beneath an avalanche of trash seven months after her sudden disappearance.
The body of Emmy-winning set designer Evelyn Sakash was finally discovered by her sister Tuesday afternoon and investigators believe she died in an avalanche of garbage and debris inside her filthy College Point kitchen around the time she disappeared in late September, sources said.
The 66-year-old victim was discovered lying face-up under the debris by her sibling, who was visiting from out-of-state to empty the apartment with help from a professional cleaner, sources told the Daily News.
“This is just devastating,” said the tearful sister, Ellen Brown, 60. “She had a full life. She was so extraordinarily talented. She was a brilliant mind ... I don’t want my sister to be remembered like that, like the way she was found.”
Sakash died of natural causes, succumbing to arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease, according to the city Medical Examiner’s office.
Sakash won a 2003 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction/Set Decoration/Scenic Design for her work on the children’s television series “Between the Lions.” She worked in movies, television and theater during her long career but fell into a downward spiral after her mother’s death last April, according to a neighbor.
“She became so much more withdrawn and looked sick,” the neighbor said. “I think that’s when she started to pick up more of the hoarding . . . I went into her house years ago and it was normal.”
The victim’s home on Wednesday included a sink filled with filthy dishes and rooms piled high with other debris and a stench wafting from the residence. Neighbors said Sakash kept dogs and cats in the home, with police emptying the home of her pets without locating the body during one of at least two visits to the residence over the last seven months.
Brown recounted a list of her artist sister’s productions, including stints doing Broadway set design, work for Disney and MTV, and time on hit TV series like “Billions” and “Orange Is The New Black.” But she is uncertain about the grim circumstances of her sister’s death.
“I don’t know,” she said. “This was clearly in effect for a long time. She sometimes kept people at bay. The headline says ‘Queens hoarder,’ but that’s not who she is.”
Laura DiDio, a family friend, said on Facebook that cops with K-9 dogs searched Sakash’s home on two occasions over the last few months but somehow did not find her.
The death was reminiscent of the city’s most infamous hoarders, brothers Homer and Langley Collyer. The two were found decomposing in 1947 inside their outrageously cluttered Harlem home, packed with 120 tons of items collected over the decades. It took investigators two weeks to uncover the second brother’s body after the first was found.
Friends desperate to find Sakash raised more than $5,000 online to pay investigators to supplement the NYPD’s efforts but there was no sign of her before the grisly discovery of her body.
“I would like her to be remembered as an amazing friend and a talented artist,” said Madeline Hartling, 51, of Jersey City, a scenic artist who worked with Sakash over many years and helped organize the fundraiser.
HOME FILM NEWS
Mar 31, 2021 7:33pm PT
Evelyn Sakash, Daytime Emmy-Winning Production Designer, Dies at 66
By Ellise Shafer
Evelyn Sakash, an Emmy-winning production designer, was found dead at her New York City home on Tuesday. She was 66.
According to the Associated Press, Sakash was “known to be a hoarder” and was found under a pile of garbage. The cause of death is currently unknown, but will be determined by the New York City medical examiner’s office.
Sakash was found by her sister and a cleaning crew, who were hired to clear out Sakash’s home and look for her. She had previously been reported missing and was last seen alive on Sept. 30, 2020.
Sakash was a production designer and art director, having worked on films like 1990’s “Mermaids” and 2014’s “Still Alice.” In 2003, Sakash took home a Daytime Emmy for art direction for the children’s series “Between the Lions.” According to Sakash’s IMDb page, she first worked as an art director on two episodes of the television series “Search for Tomorrow” in 1986. Sakash also worked as an art director for “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” in 2006, and was the assistant art director for “Taxi” in 2004. She was a scenic artist on “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby” trilogy, and a camera scenic artist for one episode of “Orange Is the New Black” in 2015.
Her production design credits begin in 1991 with “Paradise” starring a young Elijah Wood, and go on to include “Made in America” in 1993, “The Big Green” in 1995 and 1997’s “White Lies.” Sakash was also the production designer for the television movies “Of Penguins and Peacocks” and “Once in a Lifetime,” as well as the short films “A Zen Tale” and “The Beatle Fan.”