By Steven Fletcher
What started as a well-being check at 8 Prospect St. Monday morning turned into the discovery of a man who had apparently been lying dead in his apartment for "several days," according to police.
An employee at Rockport National Bank called the Gloucester Police Department and asked officers to check on the well-being of a man who came to the counter like clockwork, according to the department's incident report.
The employee told officers that Townsend Hills, 60, of 8 Prospect St.,, made a withdrawal every Monday, but hadn't come in since March 19, and the worker was concerned.
Officers and firefighters checked the residence later Monday morning, and found Hills' body in his apartment.
Gloucester police Detective Tom Quinn said the death was unfortunate, but there are no suspicions it was due to foul play.
While police had Mills' address, 8 Prospect is a building with multiple apartments, and officers initially found no one at home.
When they broke through the door, a strong odor of gas filled the hallway. The odor, according to police reports, was overwhelming, and officers called the Fire Department an National Grid to report a "gas leak."
While officers evacuated some other nearby apartment houses, the Fire Department responded with a second engine and Ladder 1, in addition to Rescue 1 and an engine already on scene.
Firefighters forced entry to three apartments at 8 Prospect St., and Hills' proved to be the last one they entered, according to the report. Hills' body was discovered in his bathroom. Officers also found Hills' mailbox inside the building, with several days' worth of mail inside.
National Grid didn't find a leak or any high readings of natural gas.
The officer on scene, Scott Duffany, called Quinn and the state medical examiner. The body, Duffany's report states, had started decomposing.
"We don't know how long he was deceased," said Lt. Kathy Auld, the Gloucester Police chief of detectives.
Quinn said the department is waiting for the state coroner's office to determine how long it had been since Hills died, but the police report indicated that the body appeared to have been in the apartment for "several days."
Aside from the locked apartment door, Duffany's report states that nothing in the apartment seemed out of order.
State police notified Hills' next of kin, and the medical examiner's office removed the body an hour after the response.
Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 1-978-283-7000 x3455, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @stevengdt.