Published: Jun 12, 2010 9:06 PM EDT
Updated: Jun 12, 2010 6:06 PM EDT

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Lee County Sheriff's deputies are investigating the discovery of skeletal remains at a home in Fort Myers.

"Just when you walked outside in the morning, the smell was so bad, it would make the neighbors gag, make me gag, my kids would ask, what's that smell, dad and it's because there were so many rats in the house," said neighbor Ken Degroot.

Investigators say the remains likely belong to the elderly mother of a woman living at a home on St. Andrews Circle North.  During a well-being check last week, deputies say 61 year-old Gail Andrews was found to be living in "deplorable conditions."  The remains were also found in the home Friday after deputies received a search warrant. "You could just sit there and watch the rats just pour in and out of the windows, so, if she went to the store or something, mom's in there with the rats, bedridden," said Degroot.

Neighbors say Andrews' mother hadn't been seen in several years. "Last time I saw her was probably five years ago," said Degroot.

Investigators say it will be several weeks before the medical examiner can determine a positive identification cause of death.  Meantime, deputies say Gail Andrews has been put in touch with social service organizations.