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Hoarder found dead inside burning St. Petersburg house

ST. PETERSBURG — A man known in his neighborhood as "the hoarder" was found dead with a gun wound to his chest early Friday morning inside his burning house, police said.

Firefighters responded to the fire at 8074 23rd Ave. N about 7 a.m., finding Bruce Meredith, 61, unconscious. He was carried outside and pronounced dead, according to reports by the St. Petersburg Police Department.

Police are investigating the death as a possible suicide.

Detectives who searched the house said Meredith, who had lived there for decades, was a hoarder.

"There were all kinds of things — lots and lots of newspapers," said Mike Petz, spokesman for the Police Department.

Meredith's next-door neighbor, Bret Campbell, 29, grew up knowing Meredith as a retired Vietnam veteran. He mowed Meredith's lawn, he said, and Meredith's best friend would come over, and the two older men would holler at the young man in a friendly way — "like two gramps," said Campbell. When Meredith's good friend died, Campbell said, Meredith changed.

"He never came out anymore," Campbell said. "He just kind of turned into a ghost."

Alison Barnwell can be reached at (727) 893-8804 or abarnwell@tampabay.com. On Twitter: alison_barnwell.

Hoarder found dead inside burning St. Petersburg house 08/23/13 [Last modified: Saturday, August 24, 2013 12:49am]

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