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A quiet death in the neighborhood

May 5, 2006

Leon Warshay, Wayne State University sociology professor, commented about the death of a reclusive man whose badly decomposed body was not discovered until nearly a month later in his home. Neighbors did not notice Dennis Dillinger's absence from the neighborhood. That few noticed or did anything about it does not surprise Warshay. "People don't know, don't care and don't pay attention," said Warshay, who has studied the idea of isolation. "We live in a society of strangers." A century ago, people lived with friends or family and knew everyone in their neighborhood. Now 25 percent of all households are single-individual homes, Warshay said. Instead of families, neighbors and friends, people rely on television, the Internet and institutions such as police departments, churches and social workers, Warshay added.