Debris from lawmaker's missing Detroit house found at landfill

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — Debris from a home that went missing late last month was found Friday at a landfill more than 20 miles away, authorities said.

State Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, whose nonprofit was renovating the home to give to a family in need, said she was stunned to see the home was mysteriously lifted out of the ground without a trace.

Now, Gay-Dagnogo is searching for answers as to why it was removed without warning.

A house at 14567 Minock in Detroit belonging to State Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo was demolished and removed without her knowing.

"It's my understanding that it was taken to a landfill, and it's surprising," said the Detroit Democrat, who represents Michigan's 8th District on the city's northwest side, on Friday. "We don't know why. Someone obviously contacted them to pick it up. It sounds crazy that they would just pick up a home and dump it."

The home, previously at 14567 Minock near Stoepel Park, was picked up and taken to Waste Management's Woodland Meadows landfill in Wayne, said Waste Management spokeswoman Tanisha Sanders.

"Based on the information that we have at this time, we do know that the debris from the land site was found at our landfill," Sanders said. "We have shared the information with the police department and will continue to cooperate as needed."

Sanders said unaware of the circumstances, the home was demolished at the landfill.

"We are aware of the unfortunate situation with Rep. Gay-Dagnogo that has made national headlines," she said. "I do believe, to my understanding, that the site may have been contracted for removal."

Sanders said she has no idea why the home was picked up and that it was not removed by Waste Management.

Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, D-Detroit

"It was received at our landfill by a customer and processed at the disposal, not picked up," she said. "Specific information was collected from our site that matched the description of the home, and while we can't disclose customer information, that we have shared that with the police."

Detroit assistant police chief David LeValley confirmed late Monday that the department has opened a criminal investigation into the incident. Investigators confirmed Friday they received information that the debris from the removed home was found at the landfill in Wayne.

Detroit Building Authority Director Tyrone Clifton, in a provided statement earlier this week, said the demolition "was not ordered, directed or funded by the city."

"There also was no permit pulled by any private party for demolition at this address," Clifton said. "At this time, we are actively investigating to see if we can help determine who was responsible."

Gay-Dagnogo, founder of the Coalition to Integrate Technology and Education, said the organization has purchased several properties from the Detroit Land Bank Authority near city parks with the goal of revitalizing them.

The house in question had undergone an investment of about $42,000 for a new roof and windows and other repairs, she said. The nonprofit purchased the property for about $1,000 and the sale closed on July 25, 2018. 

"It's a lot of money, and we need answers," Gay-Dagnogo said.

But in mid-June, it sustained damage when an adjacent property owned by the city caught fire. The fire-damaged house at 14561 Minock, she said, was razed in July by the demolition firm Adamo Group. That work was fully completed on July 19, according to the city. 

Christian Hauser, an attorney for Adamo, said Monday that Adamo "had nothing to do with the demolition of the structure at 14567 Minock." 

A blight busting group went to the property last week to do an assessment and provide a quote for the rehab work. That's when, Gay-Dagnogo said, they let her know the house was no longer there.

Christian Hauser, an attorney for Adamo, said Monday that Adamo "had nothing to do with the demolition of the structure at 14567 Minock."

But the razing of the house is a "huge mystery," said Gay-Dagnogo, adding there doesn't seem to be a record of a demolition permit nor any effort to ensure utilities had been disconnected. 

"I reached out to the Detroit Police Department to find out what they knew and I have my attorney reaching out to get the dump tickets because we didn't have any warning," she said.

"I don't even know why they did. It's just a mystery."

Twitter: @SarahRahal_