by Gregory Marinaccio
If you watch the show "Hoarders", you know that some people just give up cleaning entirely, and the results are incredibly disgusting and disturbing. These are stories of people who accumulated so much junk that they spent their daily lives living in filth.
1. Theresa Martone
Theresa Martone, 33, was arrested last August on charges of child abuse and animal cruelty after she and her three children were found living in abject squalor in her Palm Coast, Fla., home. Deputies called to the scene described a pungent odor seeping from the house, and once inside, they found Martone and her children -- ages 5, 8, and 14 -- up to their necks in fecal matter, stray animals and garbage.
Among the strays were 22 cats, six dogs, several ferrets and a rabbit. “These children were living in deplorable conditions,” Flagler County Sheriff Donald Fleming said in a statement. “This mother should have reached out for help before the situation became this desperate.” Martone’s 5-year-old daughter told police she hadn’t bathed in weeks, maybe even months.
2. Maria Cimino
The smell coming from 65-year-old Mesa, Ariz., resident Maria Cimino’s home was so noxious that sheriff’s deputies from Maricopa County were forced to don goggles, protective clothing and breathing apparatuses to make their entry after neighbors reported not seeing the woman for some time.Once inside the squalid residence -- it was jam-packed floor-to-ceiling with trash, feral cats and feces -- the police, battling stifling temperatures over 100 degrees, made an even more disturbing find: Cimino herself had succumbed to natural causes at some point prior to their visit. It was unclear how long Cimino had been dead, but the home was so overrun with cats, rubbish, and filth that it took responders more than two days to extricate her body.
3. Name Withheld
A 93-year-old survivor of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was found living in decrepit conditions in January 2011 at his El Cajon home, near San Diego. The man’s caretaker, Milagros Angeles, 63, was arrested on suspicion of elder abuse after deputies discovered that thousands of dollars had been taken from the elderly veteran.
The victim, whose name was not released (as is protocol in this type of investigation), was taken to the Veterans Affairs hospital in San Diego suffering from dementia and dehydration. Sgt. Mark Varnau of the Sheriff’s department’s elder-abuse unit said the man indeed had relatives in the Southern California area, but that no one apparently was aware of the extent of his condition. “We tell people they should check on their kids,” Varnau said. “They should check on their parents too.”
4. Mabel Larson
A 1-year-old Liberty County, Texas, girl was found living in despicable conditions this August after authorities responding to an animal-cruelty call discovered her in a cage with cockroaches crawling all over her body. Deputies also found a dead horse lying in the yard and more dead and/or emaciated horses, dogs and cats strewn about the property.
The child was checked by emergency medical personnel and turned over to Child Protective Services, where she was determined to be in good overall health. The girl’s mother, Mabel Larsen, was arrested and charged with animal cruelty. More charges relating to her daughter’s welfare are expected.
5. Ronald and Robin Teller
Two Fort Pierce, Fla., children were removed from their parents’ home this August when they were found living in squalid conditions. Ronald and Robin Teller, both 37, face two charges of child neglect each after police found their house overrun with rubbish, swarming insects, dirty clothes and the overwhelming odor of rotting food.
Authorities also discovered mattresses soaked with large, brown stains; numerous cups filled with an unknown liquid; unknown rotting substances; and a refrigerator bursting with moldy, uncovered food. “The residence was covered with bugs,” the police report reads. “On top of the kitchen table I found dirty leftover biscuits that were old and had insects on them.” Ironically, Mrs. Teller earns a living as a cleaner at a nearby courthouse.
6. Cynthia Gudger
Serial animal hoarder Cynthia Gudger (also known as Anita Gilbert) faced 10 felony counts of animal cruelty after she was found living with more than 50 sick, dying and dead animals in her disastrous home in Tehachapi, Calif., near Bakersfield, in 2008. Only two years prior, in 2006, Gudger was arrested on animal-hoarding charges when police found her living in squalor with 15 dogs, 23 cats and numerous cages of mice.Gudger eventually was deemed unfit to stand trial in 2010 after a full psychological evaluation. She was sentenced to five years probation for the case, which captured nationwide attention. “I love my animals like they’re my children,” Gudger famously said. Amid the wreckage, officers additionally reported finding the corpses of 14 cats and dogs wrapped in plastic tucked away in Gudger’s freezer.
7. Wanda Oughton
Back in 2009, Wanda Oughton made local headlines in her upscale Chester Township, N.J., neighborhood when the million-dollar, two-story, brick house she was thought to share with just her 20-year-old daughter was discovered to be completely overrun by cats -- 93 cats, to be exact. The 12-room house was doused with feline urine, fecal matter and trash, and the animals had ripped up all of the furniture.
“It was horrible to go in there,” SPCA spokesman Matt Stanton said of Oughton’s “toxic” home. “Our people had to fill their nostrils with Vick’s VapoRub and wear masks. They could only go in for five minutes at a time and had to come out to get fresh air again.” Piles of excrement reached 2 feet high in some areas of the house, and the bottom of one bathtub had a mound of feces measuring some 8 inches, authorities were sorry to say.
8. Dan Sweeny and Julie Forsyth
Feral cats, dogs, ferrets and even rabbits are among the animals most commonly uncovered when a hoarder’s squalid existence is exposed.
But now we can add miniature ponies to that list.
East Stroudsburg, Pa., couple Dan Sweeny, 59, and Julie Forsyth, 57, were arrested and each charged with eight counts of animal cruelty and additional counts of operating a kennel without a license. State police executed a search warrant on their rural property and found more than 80 dogs and horses and 25 miniature ponies living in rancid conditions in the drastically under-equipped kennel where the animals were being bred for sale.
9. Crystal Dawn Craig and Amy Elizabeth Lam
Authorities say a naked toddler found standing alone outside of a Wawa convenience store this week in Spotsylvania, Va., led to the discovery of eight children ranging in ages from 7 months to 16 years living in despicable conditions in a house overrun with filth. “A horrendous odor of rotten food, animal feces and urine was coming from the home,” says First Sgt. J. Konicki, who escorted the little girl home.
“The living conditions were deplorable, including mattresses with no sheets on the floor.” The children’s mothers, Crystal Dawn Craig, 29, and Amy Elizabeth Lam, 38, were arrested and charged with eight counts of felony child neglect. Cops say in addition to the eight kids, seven dogs and two kittens also were rescued from the house.
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10. Sidney Stone
“It smelled like death,” said Virginia Swope of her next-door neighbor’s house in Ypsilanti Township, Mich. The squalid structure, owned by Sidney Stone, was uncovered this month after police received a tip from Swope’s husband that his neighbor’s house wasn’t fit for human habitation. Mounds of filth, mold and plastic containers filled with urine abound in the drab pad. Human excrement sat in piles in the bathtubs and used toilet paper clogged the bathroom sinks.
Rats and mice ran freely inside and out. Stone’s daughter and 10-year-old granddaughter were said to have been living in the house, but neither could be found and no one knows exactly what happened to them. “My husband just couldn’t take that smell anymore,” Swope continued. “For a 10-year-old to live like that, I would have to say it’s criminal.”