FREELAND, Mich. (WJRT) — The blistering cold turned deadly Saturday afternoon.
One Mid-Michigan family says their 62-year-old relative, Arnoul Jaros, was found dead in his unheated home. The inside was dark, but this tragedy is shining a light on mental health.
The Jaros family had gone to invite their relative over for dinner, but there was no answer at the door.
They say this isn’t uncommon, because he typically is not interested in socializing. This time, however, there were no sounds of movement inside, no foot tracks around and a full mailbox with the last date postmarked Jan. 16.
That raised enough red flags to immediately called police.
“They went inside. They were inside for just a few minutes and they came out and told us they found him frozen to death. That’s what they said to us,” Karina Jaros, the man’s niece said.
Dying in 26-degree cold alone was bad enough, but walking around the home and seeing how he suffered first-hand put the family in tears.
“He’s very, very skinny. He didn’t have a lot of fat to live on, and if you can’t cook, can’t take a hot shower, can’t microwave anything to eat or drink, eating cold foods, there’s no words,” said Karin Jaros, the man’s sister-in-law.
The family began wondering why his power was shut off. Consumers Energy released the following statement on the matter:
“Consumers Energy learned Saturday afternoon about the death of a Freeland resident. Consumers Energy stopped providing natural gas in May 2019 and electricity in July 2019 to this person’s home due to non-payment of bills. The balance on the account was paid later in July, but Consumers Energy did not receive a request to restore service or a payment for the restoration fee. The instructions to restore service appear on all customer shut-off notices. We are currently working with local law enforcement officials to understand more about the situation and are reviewing this person’s account records. Our thoughts and sympathies go out to this person’s friends and loved ones.”
The man’s family says he never complained about his physical health. He tried to cope with the cold with blankets and layers of curtains to cover the windows, but they say Arnoul suffered from a form of social anxiety.
“He wouldn’t do anything. I was hopeful that we could help him with that and get him some sort of behavioral health interventions to help him with that anxiety, but I know that’s a real hard step for people to take,” Karin Jaros said.
The family says they are expecting an autopsy report tomorrow.
Resources are available for anyone facing a shutoff notice. Call Michigan 211 to connect with programs that can help you pay utilities.
Michigan also offers State Emergency Relief through the Department of Health and Human Services. Several nonprofit organizations, including the Salvation Army, also provide help with home heating bills.