SOUTH FORT MYERS, Fla. - It all started with a June 4th well being check at Gail Andrews' home. Deputies say the home on St. Andrews Circle in South Fort Myers reeked of rotting food and urine. The odor was so strong, you could even smell it from the street.
When deputies glanced through the window, they saw a house filled with trash, crawling with mice and rats that jumped when they flashed their lights on them.
"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," neighbor Ken DeGroot said.
Homeowner 61 year old Gail Andrews, told deputies she'd been cleaning the back storage and it was taking longer than planned. She said she was the only one home, that her father died 10 years ago and her elderly mother moved to Connecticut a year ago.
When Andrews refused to come out, D.C.F. was called in. Inside, the D.C.F. Officer saw trash and raw filth, piled two feet high. The actual floor could not be seen. Several cats in cages along with a dozen full grown rats scampered through the home while bugs and roaches wallpapered the rooms.
"You smell it all the time...all the time," Neighbor Tina DeVecchis said.
Friday, investigators made the most shocking discovery of all - a skeleton - believed to be Andrew's mother.
Unfortunately, this was not a shock to DeVecchis who says she's been calling Lee County for 18 years about the home.
"Who's accountable? Where does the ball drop? How many times do I have to call in over 18 years and say there's rats, it smells, her mother may be in there," DeVecchis said.
Code enforcement says they've received 10 complaints about this property since 2001, however, unless they doubt the structural safety of a building, they can't go inside. D.C.F. says it's only dealt with this family once before in 2004 on a completely different case. The Sheriff's Office does not plan to file criminal charges.