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The Bay Terrace resident has lived in his one-bedroom apartment in the swanky Seville building in the Birchwood Towers at Water's Edge co-op, located at 18-15 215th St., for nearly 10 years. A few weeks ago, the 37-year-old screenwriter and owner of Whitestone Bowling Lanes noticed a smell in his ninth floor apartment and notified the management of the Seville, who in turn called the police. The smell was coming from the apartment next door, where Macaluso's neighbor, Edward Deutschmann, had died several weeks before, Macaluso said."The police broke the door open and the smell was unbelievable," he said. Deutschmann, 81, had died of natural causes in his bathroom, according to Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the city's medical examiner's office. The medical examiner did not say when Deutschmann actually died but pronounced him dead April 26, the day the body was found.Through conversations with neighbors and maintenance staff, Macaluso found out the body had decomposed to an advanced degree in the apartment, he said. The resultant smells escaped into the rest of the floor, and Macaluso said the odor was strongest in his bathroom, which is directly adjacent to Deutschmann's next door, separated only by a wall."Our pipes are connected, and he died four inches away on the other side of the bathroom wall," Macaluso said. "Whatever fumes I was breathing made me sick."By mid-May, Macaluso said, he felt so ill he had moved out of his apartment into a hotel in Montauk, and could only be home for short periods of time. He estimates he has spent nearly $4,000 in cleaning and hotel expenses.Phone calls placed to Birchwood Towers were not returned. The Seville building manager, Arlene Pino, said "we cannot have access to the apartment until the police say so" and declined to comment further.109th Precinct Detective Frank Johnston, who worked on the case, said the apartment would have been sealed until Deutschmann's surviving family, a daughter who lives in North Carolina, came to settle the estate."If the daughter came up to get the body, she would have to come into the precinct and they would open the apartment for her," Johnston said. "I haven't heard if she did or didn't. There is no investigation going on, and the case is closed."Macaluso had only a passing acquaintance with Deutschmann and knew him as a shut-in who kept to himself."His wife had died about eight years ago, and he's been here since the late 1960s," Macaluso said. Before he realized that Deutschmann had died, Macaluso constantly felt nauseous and headachy, and said he was even briefly hospitalized at North Shore Hospital where doctors could not determine the nature of his illness."I was scared out of my mind, and the doctors said they don't know what to treat," Macaluso said. "I've lost 10 pounds because I can't eat. I'm not living normal."Macaluso said he still can't bear to be in his apartment. "I just want to know who's going to clean the mess up," he said. "This is a co-op, and we're all shareholders. The building is responsible, but they put two air fresheners in the hall and make it like it's my problem."Reach reporter Sophia Chang by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.
©2005 Community Newspaper Group
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