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Forensic cleaner shares what it is like having to mop up some of Sydney’s most gruesome crime scenes

Cleaning up crime scenes sounds like a horror story to most, but it’s just another day on the job for forensic cleaner Lee Lordanidis.

The 59-year-old has seen some of the most gruesome crime scenes in Sydney during her 30-year career.

From being mugged by a killer on the run to finding a missing human ear that had been stolen by a family pet, Lee has encountered what many would likely never experience.

Growing up with a grandfather who was a gravedigger, Lee said he was always taught that “death was inevitable” and that “you don’t have to be afraid of it.”

Lee Iordanidis (pictured), from Sydney, has been a crime scene cleaner for 30 years.  An assassin jumped her from the roof, held her at knifepoint, and found a missing human ear while she worked.

Lee Iordanidis (pictured), from Sydney, has been a crime scene cleaner for 30 years. An assassin jumped her from the roof, held her at knifepoint, and found a missing human ear while she worked.

Growing up with a grandfather who was a gravedigger, Lee said he was always taught that

Growing up with a grandfather who was a gravedigger, Lee said he was always taught that “death was inevitable” and that “you don’t have to be afraid of it.”

Horrific crime scenes are often littered with walls and carpets splattered with blood, maggots, flies, human fluids, and sometimes human remains.

Lee is always on top of what’s to come, saying a job can take anywhere from a day to three weeks to complete.

“I go into hell and I go out of heaven, because for me I like to make sure that families can always feel safe again,” he said.

She has cleaned hotel rooms, houses, grandma’s flats and squatter hideouts, saying ‘you never forget the smell of death’.

“Imagine the worst dumpster smell you can think of on a hot day, multiply that by a million and then you’re getting close,” he said.

To combat the odor, he applies Vicks VapoRub inside the tips of his nostrils and a couple of coffee grounds inside the respirator’s face mask.

Horrific crime scenes are often littered with blood, maggots, flies, human fluids, and sometimes human remains, on walls and carpets.  To combat the strong odor, he applies Vicks VapoRub inside the tips of his nostrils and a couple of coffee grounds inside the respirator's face mask.

Horrific crime scenes are often littered with blood, maggots, flies, human fluids, and sometimes human remains, on walls and carpets. To combat the strong odor, he applies Vicks VapoRub inside the tips of his nostrils and a couple of coffee grounds inside the respirator’s face mask.

Lee has cleaned hotel rooms, houses, grandma's flats and squatter hideouts, saying 'you never forget the smell of death.'

Lee has cleaned hotel rooms, houses, grandma’s flats and squatter hideouts, saying ‘you never forget the smell of death.’

Lee has been able to cope with the aftermath of horrific crime scenes due to her upbringing and dealing with the shocking deaths of those close to her.

He began his unique career after a friend committed suicide and he couldn’t bear to watch the family clean up the mess.

“Obviously my friend’s mother was absolutely devastated, and people don’t realize that the police don’t touch the mess that’s been made,” he said.

“So I went to Bunnings, bought a hazmat suit, gloves and cleaning supplies.”

Once inside the house he had to remove the cupboards, clean the carpet and any remnants of human fluids and flies.

“I thought, ‘If I can do this for a friend, I can do this for anyone,’ and that’s how I became a forensic cleaner,” she said.

Lee has always had a love for crime and previously worked for lawyers.

Lee is always on top of what's to come, saying a job can take anywhere from a day to three weeks to complete.

Lee is always on top of what’s to come, saying a job can take anywhere from a day to three weeks to complete.

With well-groomed hair and manicured nails, Lee said others often think she's a hairdresser or a secretary and are surprised when she reveals her job title.

With well-groomed hair and manicured nails, Lee said others often think she’s a hairdresser or a secretary and are surprised when she reveals her job title.

Lee recalled moments of danger such as on one occasion an assassin jumped on her from the roof when she was working.

“We were in a beautiful wooded area in North Sydney where a murder had taken place,” he said.

“I started the job, it was an older house, and I thought ‘these damn possums (on the roof) are so loud, how big are they? “.

“As I was walking down the hall the ladder to the hatch in the ceiling was down, next thing I knew he jumped out and landed on top of me.

“My guys had to grab him, pull him out, and we called the police to say, ‘Um, we found your killer, he’s here.'”

1653193944 169 Forensic cleaner shares what it is like having to mop

“I’m in hell and I’m out of heaven, because for me I like to make sure that families can always feel safe again,” he said.

The tough nature of the job often takes a toll on Lee's mental health at the time, particularly if children are involved.  To cope with everything, she has the support of her husband Peter (pictured) and she likes to listen to music, drink coffee and go for long walks.

The tough nature of the job often takes a toll on Lee’s mental health at the time, particularly if children are involved. To cope with everything, she has the support of her husband Peter (pictured) and she likes to listen to music, drink coffee and go for long walks.

On another occasion, she claims she was held at knifepoint and shot in a “dingy” hotel in Kings Cross.

“We had been on the hotel awning collecting syringes and were talking to a couple through the window for hours,” he said.

“They didn’t care that we were there, so I went down to the car and put on my blue overalls because I was getting a little dirty.”

“But when I went to go upstairs, one of the guys (in the hotel room) I had been talking to thought I was a policeman and put a knife to my neck.”

Lee’s co-workers had to calmly tell the man to put the knife down, which he eventually did, but instead “jawed her with a needle.”

‘It’s never a dull day; I had to wait three months to see if I had HIV.’

When asked what death smells like, Lee said:

When asked what death smells like, Lee said, “Imagine the worst landfill smell you can think of on a hot day, multiply that by a million and then you’re getting close.”

Recalling how he found a missing human ear, Lee states that the story is “pretty sad to tell” as the circumstances involved attempted murder and suicide.

“The father killed the boy and he shot himself but he didn’t die,” she states, adding, “So they took him to the hospital and I got a phone call explaining his ear was missing.”

“We looked everywhere you could think of, then we heard the dog next door chewing on something and realized it had the ear.”

With a quick visit to the pet store, the human ear was retrieved and the dog was given a pig’s ear to chew on.

There is nothing I haven't seen;  it's never a dull day,' he said

There is nothing I haven’t seen; it’s never a dull day,’ he said

With well-groomed hair and manicured nails, Lee said others often think she’s a hairdresser or a secretary and are surprised when she reveals her job title.

“Some people run away thinking ‘I’m weird’ or there are others who want to know more,” she said.

‘When I take off my uniform, I’m still me. So I still want to look good and feel like myself,” she said.

The uniform itself covers the entire body with a hazmat suit, gloves, socks, boots, goggles, and a respirator.

The tough nature of the job often takes a toll on Lee’s mental health at times, particularly if children are involved.

To cope with everything, she has the support of her husband, Peter, and likes to listen to music, drink coffee and go for long walks.

“There’s nothing I haven’t seen,” he said.

Lee added that she is excited about the launch of the new TV show The Cleaner, starring Helena Bonham Carter, which focuses on a crime scene cleaner and can be seen on BritBox.

If you or someone you know needs crisis or suicide prevention support, call the Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit the website here.

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