Arveson house on demolition path; 11 charges of animal cruelty
The house at the Rose Arveson Shrine - condemned Jan. 28 after police broke in and found an ailing man surrounded by multiple dead and dying animals - has now been declared a dilapidated building.
In addition, the man, William Schwartz, 69, has been charged with 11 counts of animal cruelty after an investigation by the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region. This was based on the 10 cats and 1 dog in the house having died (two of the animals were initially alive but died later).
The cause of death in each case is believed to be the animals getting sick due to the “condition of the house,” according to Gretchen Pressley of the Humane Society.
A court appearance for Schwartz is scheduled March 27.
The roughly quarter-acre private property at 3540 W. Pikes Peak has been open to the public as an outdoor shrine since 1969, in the name of Rose Arveson, whose daughters, Pauline and Dorothy, believed her to be a saint.
Ken Lewis, director of City Code Enforcement, said his office declared the 1,068-square-foot house dilapidated because of its unsanitary interior, which could eventually lead to the structure being torn down.
But first a notice will be sent out - to the West Pikes Peak Avenue address - in an effort to contact “heirs or some responsible person who might step forward to claim the property and say they'll clean it up,” Lewis said.
The legal property owner, according to state and county records, is the Rose Arveson Simmons Shrine, Incorporated.
The property was incorporated by the state Sept. 17, 1969, after Rose died. Records show that the sisters were joined by two others (listed as Carl and Marybelle Kallnbach) on the initial board of directors. One of the questions on the form asked for the intended duration of the corporation. The response was “perpetual.” Another question inquired about the purpose. The reply: “To promote the love of God.”
An entry on the Secretary of State's website from Aug. 1, 1989, reveals that the board of directors/officers at that time consisted of Dorothy, Pauline and Schwartz. He also is listed, along with the sisters, as a board of directors member on reports from the corporation to the state dated 1995, 1997 and 1999.
No reports listing board members has been filed since. The last report for the corporation was filed in 2003. Secretary of State website records show the corporation's current status as “delinquent.”
Dorothy Arveson is still listed on the state website as the registered agent, although according to Lewis, Dorothy died in 2011.
It is not known when Pauline died or where either of the sisters is interred.
Also, no certain information has become available about family members. Lewis said in January that police were working under the impression that Schwartz was the brother of the Arveson sisters.
However, the Westside Pioneer has received a call since then from a former Westsider named Millie Toler, who said she went to school at Whittier Elemen-tary with Dorothy and Pauline (in the same grade as the latter). According to Toler, “I know for a fact they did not have a brother.”
Another call came from area resident Eve Hart, saying she has a copy of the 2008-09 directory for a local Catholic church that lists the “Arveson-Schwartz Family” at 3540 W. Pikes Peak.
Police decided to break into the house based on neighorhood complaints, a foul smell from within and Schwartz refusing to open the door.
Suffering from a swollen foot, he was taken for treatment to a local hospital, where he remained this week, Lewis said. Asked if Schwartz had given officers information about the shrine, Lewis said no.
He has previously told the Westside Pioneer that Code Enforcement has responded to neighborhood complaints at the property several times over the past decade, but Schwartz never allowed officers into the house.
Westside Pioneer article