PROVINCETOWN — A fire at 86 Atkins Mayo Road on Thursday, Nov. 21 killed the home owner, John Eder, the sole occupant of a house set far back in the woods off Bradford Street.
The alarm at 2:33 p.m. brought as many as 40 firefighters to one of the most remote locations in Provincetown, said Fire Chief Michael Trovato. Located about 1,400 feet away from the nearest hydrant, Eder’s home was surrounded by a tall fence made of artistically arranged driftwood and other objects and had numerous “Keep Out” signs posted.
Eder, who was 74, was found in bed in the upstairs bedroom, Trovato said. The cause of the fire is unknown and given the devastation of the house it’s unlikely the cause will ever be determined, he said. There was a wood stove, numerous power cords, fireworks, and possibly ammunition in the building, the chief added.
Eder was intensely private in recent years, but he was a charming and accomplished leather craftsman in the 1960s and 1970s, said Marie Pace, a longtime Provincetown resident who now lives in Florida.
“He did become so private and a hermit in his later years, but he was a sweet, funny, and wonderful guy,” Pace said.
When they met in the 1970s, Eder owned the Renaissance Leather shop. Even back then he had a long beard and a bald head, Pace recalled. He also owned a German Shepherd named Whip that everyone loved.
“I’ll always think of him with this twinkle in his eye,” Pace said. “He had a Santa Claus type of face.”
His former girlfriend Victoria Brandt knew him in the 1980s and 1990s. She said she remembers his property fantastically planted with tons of flowers. It was a little paradise, she recalled.
Eder lived with Jill Richter, the mother of Sacha and Mischa Richter, from 1975 to 1985 when they were young boys. He adopted them when they were adults, according to the Associated Press. In 2017, his biological son, David Eder of New Haven, Conn., sued his father to try to get the Richter brothers removed as part heirs to Eder’s $1.5 million trust, according to the Associated Press. David Eder was unsuccessful. A three-judge panel ruled that John Eder remained close to the Richters throughout his life and wanted them to receive part of the trust. He did not, however, adopt them to intentionally deprive his biological son of an inheritance, the judges found.
Mischa Richter told the Independent he did not want to comment.