Evelyn Sakash, an Emmy-winning production designer and scenic artist, has been found dead in her home six months after she was reported missing.
Sakash worked in the art department of series including Orange is the New Black and Law & Order: Criminal Intent, as well as films such as Mermaids and Still Alice. The 66-year-old’s body was found beneath a pile of debris in the kitchen of her home in Queens, New York.
A spokesperson for the New York Police Department confirmed that Sakash died of natural causes, as a result of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.
Sakash was first reported missing in September, and a GoFundMe campaign was set up by a friend in December to raise funds to find her.
On Tuesday (30 March), Sakash’s body was found by cleaners hired by her sister, Ellen Brown, to clear the production designer’s home.
Speaking to the New York Daily News, Brown addressed claims that Sakash was a hoarder and that her sister’s body was found beneath “an avalanche of trash”.
“I don’t know,” Brown said. “This was clearly in effect for a long time. She sometimes kept people at bay. The headline says ‘Queens hoarder,’ but that’s not who she is.”
She continued: “This is just devastating. She had a full life. She was so extraordinarily talented. She was a brilliant mind … I don’t want my sister to be remembered like that, like the way she was found.”
In the wake of Sakash’s death, the GoFundMe set up in her name is now raising money for funeral costs.
Sakash won a Daytime Emmy in 2003 for Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction/Set Decoration/Scenic Design for her work on the children’s television series.