You may have seen the sometimes gruesome dark comedy The Cleaner, written by and starring comedian Greg Davies, about a Government-certified cleaning technician called Paul Wickstead, who is responsible for removing the signs of death, injury or other biohazard debris from crime scenes.
But in real life a couple of crime scene cleaners are gaining thousands of new followers as they post on social media their own true stories of gore and death that often involve them mopping up blood, collecting pieces of brain and finding severed body parts at various murder and suicide scenes.
Tom DeSena, aged 23, from Long Island, New York, and Junior Lallbachan, a 26-year-old from Guyana in South America, regularly share the trials and tribulations of their “crazy” employment on the social media platform TikTok. In doing so, they have amassed more than a quarter of a million followers who seem to revel in their shocking tales of fatality, intrigue and murder.
Together, they post stories about the most gory scenes they have encountered, how they got into their strange jobs and how they cope with some of the ghastly sites they come across in their work.
DeSena graduated from New York’s Farmingdale State College with a degree in criminal justice: law enforcement and computer technology, with a minor in legal studies.
In a recent interview, he said: “I never particularity had an interest in the field of gore and gruesomeness, but I never had a weak stomach either. This job, simply put, just sounded cool and different. And I think I’m pretty cool, and I am definitely different.”
Lallbachan got his job via a family friend who was already working for the unnamed company. Since they paired up, the duo have had their posts go viral on TikTok after disclosing details of some of the most surreal crime scenes they have encountered.
Before arriving at a crime scene, DeSena and Lallbachan are given a very brief description of what has happened. DeSena said: “The paper usually contains an address, a contact name, and their contact number, a brief description of what to expect, and what time to arrive at the location. That’s all.”
Despite claiming they can “handle anything”, there are some things they ensure they know before taking on a job. They will ask: “Were there any drugs (fentanyl)? Were there any animals? Were there any weapons?”
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He added: ‘We rarely receive pictures of the scene, but regardless, pictures only do so much. It’s almost better to walk into these jobs not knowing too much because it keeps us fully alert. It keeps us on our toes, proactive, and ready for anything.”
Recalling the most gruesome crime scene he came across, DeSena said: “A man had his friend over to hang out at his house at night with him and his wife. There was either alcohol or drugs involved, but something led to the friend finding and grabbing a hammer, and assaulting not only his friend, but his wife.
“Both the man and his wife were left for hours in different parts of the home, in critical condition, until one of the two presumably called 911.” According to a report on DailyMail.com, he said that the two were “still alive” — but refused to elaborate.
Meanwhile, Lallbachan described one crime scene where he opened up a truck only to find it full of corpses. He said: “During 2020, I had to do a job at a hospital in New York where I had to essentially sanitise and disinfect four tractor trailers from Covid. While on the way to the job, I was not aware these trailers actually contained ‘unalived’ people.”
When he went into the trailers and saw all the white body bags, he immediately felt and knew something was off. He used a sanitisation-spraying machine to disinfect the trailers — but never once looked down.
One of the worst parts of the job, according to the pair, is having to deal with grieving family or friends of those who have died.
“Having to deal with a grieving, broken, lost, confused person is very difficult,” DeSena said. “Although I treat every single person and situation equally, nothing hits my soul harder than seeing a confused mother or father who just lost their child, or a broken child coping with the loss of their parent.
‘I do handle it, but it is my least favourite part of my job — seeing such devastating hurt in someone’s eyes.’
Meanwhile, Lallbachan said that he often coped by pretending that the crime wasn’t reality. “Of course every now and again something comes to mind, but I just remind myself that it was not me, or my life. I convince myself that it was not even real, in a way,” he said.
However, they insist they love their unique career. “I love that I am mentally, physically, emotionally, and psychologically strong enough to handle this lifestyle, and not have it negatively affect me in any way,” said DeSena. “I love that we get to help people in serious need.”
Although their fanbase continues to expand, many followers admit to being shocked at their ability to handle such gory scenes. “Many people couldn’t believe what I was doing, or how I was able to do it… and many still don’t fully understand this,’ DeSena said.
“While most people would hear things such as, ‘No way you do that, that is crazy,’ and ‘I could never do what you do, Tom,’ and shy away, those comments actually made me more interested in the job. I’m not sure why, but doing something that I know most other people would never do, try, or be able to handle, really made me enjoy this job so much more.”
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