FORT MYERS SHORES, Fla. - A Lee County home where a horrific crime played out is now being torn down. WINK News first told you back in October about the tragic and sudden death of three-year-old Michael McMullen. Detectives say he suffocated inside a Fort Myers Shores home after being wrapped tightly in blankets. We're also learning about another sickening investigation that has neighbors relieved the house will soon be gone.
The hum of heavy machinery is music to Joann Hawkins' ears. "It's a bad reminder going away," Hawkins said.
Wall by wall, load by load, a house that once stood at 13798 River Forest Drive in Fort Myers Shores is coming down.
"A child died," Hawkins said. "it was an unfortunate accident but it wasn't handled well by the residents in the house."
Investigators were called here three times before October 19th, the day McMullen died. The Lee County Sheriff's Office says the boy's godmother, Donella Trainor wrapped him tightly in blankets and tied the ends as a form of discipline, ultimately, killing him. WINK News checked and Trainor, the toddler's grandmother Gale Watkins and stepfather Douglas Garrigus are still in jail charged in the child's death.
"You can still smell the house," Hawkins said. "They had a lot of animals in there. It did have an awful, awful smell."
In new reports obtained by WINK News, we uncovered that Lee County Domestic Animal Services had been investigating this home for years. Officers found overflowing cat litter boxes, unsanitary conditions, feral cats and dogs without vaccinations. Now, the home is being demolished. But, not everyone is happy about it.
"There are murders, poisonings, all kinds of things that happen in a home and you don't go tear it down," neighbor Bob White said. "It certainly could have been renovated. It was a nice looking home."
Still, others are looking forward to the day this becomes just an empty plot. "Maybe when the house is gone, people will forget what took place," Hawkins said.
Before McMullen died, the Department of Children and Families had placed the toddler and his siblings in the care of his grandmother. WINK News checked and those children are now living with their mother.