‘Maggots and cockroaches were eating her flesh’: police discover woman decomposing – but somehow still alive
Her husband and their son were arrested and charged with neglect of a disabled or elderly person
A bedridden woman was found living in squalor in her home in northern Georgia, partly decomposing and covered in cockroaches and maggots, authorities said.
First responders discovered the woman, who is in her 50s, after responding to a call about an unresponsive person last week at the home in Buford, about 40 miles outside Atlanta. Authorities described the scene as “deplorable” with garbage piled nearly to the ceiling, roaches scaling the walls and the woman – bedridden and obese – showing signs of decomposition on her legs, according to an incident report from the Gwinnett County Police Department.
Firefighters reported the incident to investigators, saying they did not think the woman, identified as Tracie Sorrells, would live much longer, according to the report. Her condition is not known.
Her husband, Terry Sorrells, 54, and their son, Christian, 18, were arrested and charged with neglect of a disabled or elderly person, a felony offence, according to online booking records. It was not immediately clear whether the two have lawyers.
Gwinnett County firefighters said that about a month ago, they transported Tracie Sorrells using a tarp designed for obese patients. When they returned to the home Thursday, she was still lying on it – and it was thoroughly soiled, according to the incident report.
“During the process of moving the patient, the fire service noticed that the patient’s legs [were] completely black and showing signs of active decomposition,” the report said. “Maggots and roaches were attached to her and eating at her flesh.”
She was transported to a hospital and her husband rode in the ambulance with her, according to the report.
Christian Sorrells told police that he and his father had been caring for his mother, who he said has been bedridden for the past year or two, and that her health was continuing to decline.
The teenager also told police that money is an issue because no one in the family has a job, the report stated.
A Gwinnett County police officer who responded to the call from firefighters about potential elder abuse described the grotesque scene in the incident report.
It read: “When I first walked through the front door I was overwhelmed with the smell of human faeces and garbage. The patient’s bed was in the living room covered in plastic and faeces and unknown liquid. Garbage lined the floor all the way to the kitchen. Inside of the kitchen was garbage piled from floor to almost ceiling. Roaches were crawling in every single room on the walls and ceiling. Inside of the bathroom there was garbage lining the floors and piled up. Inside of the father’s bedroom there was a huge pile of ‘Monster’ energy drink cans approximately 2 feet tall.
“There was garbage and a box spring inside of the wardrobe and garbage piled on the dresser. No sheets were on the bed and the frame was broken so the bed was at an angle. Inside of Christian’s room was a desk with a TV and computer. The entire room was filled with garbage except for a small clearing for his computer. The piles of garbage in Christian’s room was almost halfway up the wall.”
The officer said the entire house “was in disarray and completely infested”.
The father and son were later taken into custody and are each being held on US$22,200 bond, booking records show.