Rita Corpin, Retired Teacher Getting $120k Pension, Found Dead Amid Hoarder Conditions

Categories: Bat Shit Nuts

Santa Ana has its own version of Grey Gardens.

Remember the room filled with pet cans in the classic documentary (and also HBO dramatization) Grey Gardens? Turns out Santa Ana has it's own version of this--times three!--as the discovery of a 73 72-year-old woman's body on her porch ultimately uncovered two dogs, dozens and dozens of feral cats and disgusting hoarder conditions there and at her two other homes in town.

Rita Corpin retired in 2010 after 48 years with the Garden Grove Unified School District--including the past three decades teaching history at La Quinta High School. Transparent California indicates her pension was $120,806.52.

She'd also served on Santa Ana's Planning Commission and as a neighborhood activist, was active with the Historical Society and turns up in media coverage of the annual Thanksgiving feasts at the Honda Center, where tens of thousands have been treated to free, full holiday meals served by volunteers and members of the Anaheim Ducks. Corpin once explained she'd go every year because she was alone and liked the company.

Her body was discovered by her gardener around 11 p.m. Tuesday on the porch of her home in the 1400 block of South Rosewood Avenue in Santa Ana. Believed to have died of natural causes, Corpin was sitting in a wheelchair with a cat carrier in her lap. A live kitten was inside.

Her home and yard were covered in garbage, with some piles as tall as Mickey Rooney. Workers had to don hazmat outfits to remove the debris, which also proved to be a requirement at Corpin's two other homes on Myrtle Street.

Two pit bulls on the Rosewood property were turned over to animal control. Traps had to be set for the cats, whose numbers may top 50. No animals were found at the Myrtle homes, but a neighbor claims Corpin would often come by and leave cat food in bowls.

Santa Ana Police spokesman Cpl. Anthony Bertagna confirmed animal control had received a half-dozen complaints over the past decade about stray animals on Rosewood. Complaints about the condition of Corpin's home would have gone to a different city department, he added.

It was Corpin's primary residence but Bertagna told City News Service she apparently slept in a truck parked outside "because of the condition of the house."

"I think she had a love for animals," he added, "and, unfortunately with hoarders, it grows and grows and eventually the person loses control.''

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

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Rita Corpin paid 8% of her income into STRS for nearly 50 years and you begrudge her pension?  You act as if the pension was some unearned gift from the state.  She retired 4 years ago.  Do you think she got her investment fully paid back?   Classroom teachers pay into their pensions all their lives and the school district pays into the fund as part of their teacher's earned compensation.  A teacher might be on campus 7 hours a day, 180 days a year, but every teacher I know has papers to mark, lectures to prepare, meeting to go to,  curriculum to upgrade and now, online resources to develop.  Yeah, working as a teacher is a walk in the park….

949girl topcommenter

I can appreciate the fact that she was trying to help animals but she took it a little too far.  

gregbpc topcommenter

Yep, I should have been a teacher.  $100K a year, working 180 days a year with full pension.


@ddoyle ..In addition to the fact that teachers do not get Social Security.  Soc Sec contributions for anyone making under $117000 is 1.45%.  So pretending the "pension bashers" made $60k a year , every year, for the last 40 years, they contributed a total of $34,800 into Soc Sec.  

According to the Soc Sec website, the expected monthly payment for some at age 67 using the previous numbers would be a little over $2000 a month.  That $34k contribution (which would actually be much lower) would be repayed in 17 months.

I would say everyone who complains about teacher pensions is also pretty fairly compensated.

949girl topcommenter

@ddoyle And all of the money they spend on classroom supplies out of their own pocket.  Being a teacher is a very undervalued profession.


@gregbpc No, you shouldn't have been a teacher because you're an idiot. If you had looked for any facts to back up your assertion, you would have discovered that most teachers who spend 30 years of their lives in the profession top out at between $60-70,000 per year. The longevity of Ms. Corpin's career is a very rare deviation from the norm. The rest of us who don't have her kind of time in get by on $30-50,000 a year; thats before taxes AND OUR RETIREMENT CONTRIBUTION IS TAKEN OUT. Keep in mind, we are only paid for a 40 hour work week, but the job really requires a 50-60 hour work week. Ever walk through your neighborhood school campus during spring break, or winter break? If you did, you'd discover that most of us are there working. The ones that aren't there are working from home. Also, we have to pay for 90% of the supplies our students need to master the material we are required to teach, so go F yourself with your BS comment. You wouldn't last 5 minutes.

gregbpc topcommenter

@949girl @ddoyle I think most work hard, and do a good job, but I don't think they are undervalued.  They get pretty good compensation, benefits, and good work schedule.  Teachers at my kid's school work 815 to to 230, with a half hour lunch. That's about 6 hours.  I know they do other work, but even if they work 9 hours a day, every day during the school year, that's about 1600 hours a year. Most other jobs require at least 1800 hours  a year. Also, how many people can take one week off at Thanksgiving, 2 weeks at Christmas, and one week in the spring off?  Those with kids also have to pay for daycare during the holiday periods and summer, which is not cheap.

I would say teachers are pretty fairly compensated, all things considered.

gregbpc topcommenter

@Highway39 @gregbpc I have friends and family that are teachers. They are making close to six figures.  That IS after over 25 years teaching. I am not saying it is an easy job or that teachers don't work.  In OC, teachers start around 40K.  Add in a masters, and it gets bumped up.  Look here:


I know some teachers work a lot of hours, but how many work 10-12 hours every day during the school year? I don't think most of them do. Now that I have a kid, it would have been nice to have the same hours as her, most of the summer off, etc.  They have more vacation/holiday time off during the school year then I have the entire year.  

I'm working 2 jobs ( i do have a degree, and experience in my field) 49 weeks a year. At least you have a retirement plan.  I have only a 401k, in which I have to have a lot more taken out of my check than you, in order to receive the retirement payment a teacher will get. 

I'm not denigrating teachers, I'm just saying it's a good occupation.  Decent pay, benefits, and satisfaction working with kids. I think it just offers a good balance of everything. I know dealing with some of the parents and administrators can be a headache.

I did spend time tutoring in middle schools, mostly at-risk youth ( i know that is not the same as being a teacher).

Are you a teacher and work in Orange County?

gregbpc topcommenter

@jmcguinness @gregbpc Lack of mobility.  Having to start over if I wanted to move was one of the main reasons.

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