Cape Coral, FL – Police were called to Lisa Velez’s home on Sunday evening after she was found living with her two autistic children, one legally an adult and one a minor, in total and complete squalor.
They may have been called there by Velez’s estranged husband, who had returned to the home after being gone for over a year. He found Velez and his two autistic daughters living with eight cats inside a home littered with a bevy of cats, feces, trash, old food boxes, ants, spiders, vomit, roaches and general nastiness. There were even animal carcasses on the back patio.
It could have been her neighbors who have long suspected something wasn’t right inside the home. “I would come out at 10:30 at night and she’s out there, her daughter out there running around the street, yelling at every car over 30 miles an hour,” a neighbor said.
It may have even been DCF, who hav been investigating Velez for two years. They had visited the home previously and had instructed Velez to clean up the living conditions for her kids. Obviously, they were not happy with what they found in the home upon returning.
Velez, who wasn’t so clean herself, didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. To make matters worse, several of the cats found living inside the home appear to have a respiratory infection, and a kitten had its eyes crusted shut with its bones protruding.
When animal control arrived and explained to one of the autistic daughters they were there to bathe and feed the neglected cats, the girl reportedly asked if she could also be bathed. The second daughter was found in a locked room covered in feces and urine.
“It’s a tragedy on multiple levels,” said Armando Galella, Board President of Adonis Autism Assistance Foundation. “A child with autism, depending on where they are in the spectrum, have a very difficult time coping with situations that aren’t patterned. To have that kind of chaos around them is only going to make their situation so much worse.”
Investigators say Velez’s estranged husband had recently returned to the home, after being gone for a year. He tried to clean up the home but was reportedly stopped by Velez.
Lisa Velez was arrested and charged with child neglect and animal cruelty. Her bail has been set at $40,000. DCF says both of her children are now in safe environments.
While neighbors decided to mind their own business regarding Velez and her children before this weekend, they didn’t seem to mind going through the pile of trash that had been pulled out of the home and placed in the front yard.