CREATED May. 28, 2013
CAPE CORAL, Fla. - A disturbing scene in a Cape Coral neighborhood. Police say an autistic adult and child were found living in disgusting conditions on SE 16th Place.
While most children have clean clothes and food, investigators say those who lived at 320 SE 16th Place in Cape Coral were covered in filth.
"Shes' finally free from this insane disgusting world," said Pam Schultz, a teacher's aid at Skyline Elementary. Schultz says she's called the Department of Children and Families (DCF) after caring for the 7-year-old now in state custody.
"I used to take her every week," explained Schultz. "I'd take her home with me and we'd go out to eat. Her clothes always had holes in them. She smelled and she was hungry, she was very hungry."
On Sunday, Cape Coral Police, DCF and Lee County Animal Services were called to the home, where the girl's mother, 46-year-old Lisa Velez, was arrested. A police report describes dirty conditions: rooms strewn with clothes and garbage, empty food boxes mixed with feces and vermin. And police say an autistic adult, who Schultz says is the girls 21-year-old sister, Tiffany, was locked in a bedroom and smelled of urine.
"I never got to go into Tiffany's room, her door was always shut," said Schultz. "But when i did get to go in, there were roaches everywhere."
Investigators also found diseased cats throughout the house. Animal control is treating four of them for upper respiratory infections.
"The smell that came out her house it was just horrible," said Nancy Santana, who lives across the street.
"Those cats were starving," explained Santana. "We found two cats in the road just squashed because they'd come over here to try to eat food."
While detectives say Velez has been under investigation for two years, Shultz is surprised it took this long to remove the girls.
"It took all of these years, all of these years to finally do something!" said Velez.
She's now hoping to give the little girl another chance at life.
"Do everything i can to do whatever i can to help if it's temporary, it's temporary, if it's permanent I'm willing to take her." said Schultz.
Velez is charged with neglect and animal cruelty. She remains at the Lee County Jail on a $40,000 bond. Tiffany is at a home for disabled adults and Schultz says the 7-year-old is now in her care.