Smelling death: On the job with New York's crime-scene cleaners

There is blood all over the room. It’s on the walls and it has seeped into the cracks in the floor. There are smears of it on the doorknob and bloody handprints on the lampshade, the light switch, and the walls. There is even a large pool of it congealed under a twin-sized bed, where the victim tried to hide. “That’s the thing about a bludgeoning,” says Doug Baruchin, president of Island Trauma Services, a crime-scene cleaning-company in Long Island, as he calmly explains the steps they took to clean up this particular scene, “The blood splatters everywhere.”…

This smell is what greeted Renner and Baruchin as they entered the Bronx apartment. At this job, the decomp, the man had died in his bedroom. By the time the Island Trauma team got into the apartment, his body had been cleared but the decomposition was left behind, all of which had congealed and hardened on the bed. The electricity was turned off and pigeons had crept in through an open window, leaving droppings and feathers all around. The only piece of furniture in the bedroom was the mattress the man died on. The smell had penetrated the walls. “That smell, it hits you right in the face, doesn’t it?” said Baruchin.