HOUSTON — There are still no answers in a bizarre Heights mystery that had the whole city talking earlier this year.
Records show the medical examiner has ruled the cause of death is "undetermined." They also haven't been able to determine if the remains are Mary Cerutti, the woman who lived in the house at 610 Allston.
Renters were moving into the bungalow in March when they found the human remains in an attic wall. They also found a pair of red eyeglasses similar to those worn by Cerutti, who was 61.
"That's terrifying and so sad. It's scary that we were right there. And we didn't know," said April Lidell, a neighbor. "It’s either an accident, an unfortunate accident, or somebody put her there."
Now, we may never know.
Cerruti was reported missing two years ago after neighbors contacted police because they hadn't seen her for a while and her mail was piling up.
"I passed by there every day and I saw everything piling up," said Abbie Rangel. "For the longest time, I just thought she went out of town."
Lidell lived across the street in 2015 when firefighters went inside Cerruti’s house and found a bunch of dead cats.
“When the fire trucks were there, they said the smell was so bad in the house,” Lidell remembered. “They figured it was from the cats, because God knows how long they had been in there without food or water.”
There was no sign of the woman described by neighbors as shy, quiet and frail.
“I don’t know what more we could have done, but I wish we had,” Lidell said. “Wish we had talked to her more. I wish we would have said, ‘Hey here’s our numbers if you need anything, give us a call.’”
Neighbors say Cerruti's car remained in the driveway for a about a year after she disappeared but one day, it was gone.
Cerruti joined neighbors in the fight against a luxury apartment complex planned for the land around her house. She spoke at a 2013 planning commission meeting.
"Literally, this project is going to be in my backyard," Cerruti said. "I'm surrounded. And I just don't see the sense of this project. It seems like just too many apartments for such a small space."
But the project was approved and Cerruti, a divorcee who lived alone, had to contend with construction that made getting to her house more difficult. Neighbors say she rarely came out after that.
A bank foreclosed on her home in 2015 after the mortgage payments stopped. Liens on the property were settled, the house was cleaned out and it was eventually placed on the market and sold.
The renters who found the remains chose not to stay in the house.
At last check, it was still on the market.
2001: Mary Cerruti bought the bungalow at 610 Allston
2013: Cerruti joined neighbors in speaking out against a large apartment complex; they lost the battle and the complex went up behind Cerruti’s bungalow
August, 2014: Cerutti stopped paying her mortgage
February 2015: A missing person report was filed after neighbors alerted police
July 2016: Foreclosure proceedings started
March 2017: Human remains were found in the attic of Cerutti’s house
June 2017: The medical examiner ruled cause of death as "undetermined."
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