Society

Recluse Found Dead In New York Home Was Secretly A Millionaire

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

A New York recluse who was found dead in a rural home with no indoor plumbing or heat was actually a millionaire.

The remains of George Konnight, 79, were identified Tuesday by Ramapo police. He had been living alone since his sister’s recent death in what was once the family farm in Rockland County.

Konnight’s skeletal remains were found in the woods near his home on Friday, Ramapo Detective Lt. Mark Emma told Lohud.com.

He had few possessions in the home despite netting $3 million from the sale of a 31.5-acre property in northern Ramapo in November. His sister, Alice, had sold the property.

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"He lived a very simple life, hermit-like," Emma said. "He had his attorney and another man looking in on him now and again. He was alone."

An autopsy is being performed by the Rockland Medical Examiner's Office, although his death is not considered suspicious.

"He'd wander through the paths and woods," Emma said. "It looks like he cut his own firewood. He had one light. The house was in disarray. People could have thought the house may have been abandoned."

Emma said he likely died from a medical condition while he was taking a walk on the property. But Thomas O'Connell, an attorney who worked with the family off and on for the last 15 years, said the man had just been given "a clean bill of health" from a doctor.

"The guy had everything to live for," O'Connell said. "Under the Affordable Care Act, he was able to get insurance, so I had just gotten him an insurance card. He had just gotten a clean bill of health. I brought him to the doctor in May for the first time since he was 12 years old and had his tonsils taken out."

O’Connell said Konnight and his sisters, Alice and Anna, lived in the home since childhood. He said they owned as many as 200 acres of land in the area and would sell off pieces of land when they needed money – just like their parents had done.

O’Connell said the siblings never held any real jobs and lived off the grid.

"They wanted to stay where they were because they enjoyed their bucolic lifestyle, being isolated and surrounded by trees with deer running through the yard," O'Connell said, later adding, "Their only overhead was taxes. They didn't have a lawyer helping them out. They didn't want to get involved with the government. They just couldn't keep up with the taxes."

Beverly Moore, 75, a Suffern resident, said she's Konnight's distant cousin. She said the family dates back to the American Revolution.

"They ran a farm," Moore said. "They kept to themselves. They didn't ask anyone for anything, as far as I know."

She hadn’t seen the family since her grandfather’s funeral in 1973.

"They didn't have many friends or even a telephone," she added. "I used to get calls asking about them. I told the caller they had to mail them a letter."

Sources: Lohud.com, TheBlaze