Murder Maids

By: Alan Jones
By: Alan Jones

Cleaning up is an everyday chore. You clean your house, your apartment, your car. But cleaning up following a death, whether natural or violent, is truly a unique situation.

There are those companies that provide this kind of unsettling service.

Last year, 70-year-old Lottie Flowers was found stabbed to death at her home on Newport. On South Pierpont, 77-year-old Ralph Martin was also found in his home, stabbed to death as well. Family members found both.

Police investigated both of these violent deaths. Martin's death was solved, Flowers was not.

As gruesome as these scenes must have been, what happens when the body is taken away and the police tape comes down. A messy scene is left behind for someone to clean up. So who does this work? We wanted to find out.

What we found was Aftermath, Incorporated. A young, highly successful company that goes to work, cleaning up things most people don't even want to think about.

Chris Wilson is the company's co-founder and president. He and his partner Tim Reifsteck got into this gruesome business in a very innocent way.

"Our neighbor committed suicide and as a favor to the family, we decided to clean up the mess so they wouldn't have to. We were surprised to learn that no one did this kind of thing," said Wilson.

That was eight years ago, and since then aftermath has turned into a multi-million dollar business. Apparently business is good. But this type of work is not for everyone. But it's one that someone has to do.

"I like my job. It's not the same thing everyday," said Greg Bannack, Supervisor Technician.

And it can be a dangerous job. There was a cleanup of a homicide in a Chicago Housing Authority apartment. The blood and body fluids were so thick on the floor; it soaked through to the apartment below.

Workers receive vaccinations for Hepatitis B and training with the occupational safety and health administration because of the material they're working with, and the waste has to be disposed properly because of the health concerns.

This is hard work. Not so much physically, but emotionally. The average length of hire is only about eight months.

"We had one guy who said he didn't have any trouble cleaning up this shotgun suicide, but it was the mother asking him to bring her son back. That's the kind of emotion thing that's really tough for our guys," said Wilson.

It can certainly be emotionally difficult for these technicians, but they're well paid for their work. They can make between $35 and $40 an hour and are on call 24-7.

Marketing these types of companies can seem to be a little sordid, but most of it is done through police departments or funeral homes. However, Aftermath does have a billboard on 294 outside of Chicago touting their expertise.


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