A Plaquemine man was arrested after police found an elderly woman in a bed covered in the feces of 14 cats and two dogs kept in her home, authorities said Sunday.
Plaquemine Police and the Iberville Parish Sheriff's Office said they began investigating after the victim's neighbor told them she hadn't seen the woman in several months.
When officers entered the home, they found signs of animal hoarding and discovered the victim, who is in her 70s, in a bed covered in cat urine and feces.
"We decided we couldn’t leave her there," said Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi. "It was horrific."
Police arrested Galen Marcantel, 54, on Thursday. He had been living at the home in the 58000 block of Delacroix Street, but was not related to her, Stassi said.
Marcantel was booked into the parish jail on suspicion of cruelty to persons with infirmities.
Investigators later learned that the victim spend much of her time in that bed. Stassi added that she was often left alone in the house for hours at a time.
The sheriff also said investigators found more animal food in the house than food fit for humans.
It's a case the sheriff says echoes a growing number of elder abuse cases the Governor's Office for Elderly Affairs has observed involving vulnerable people living in homes where animals are hoarded.
The state agency reported 1,739 caregiver neglect cases and a near-similar number of self-neglect reports across Louisiana in 2019.
Marcantel had been living with the victim for some months and barred her family from visiting her, even filing a restraining order against them, Stassi said. “He took advantage of this lady,” the sheriff said.
Authorities brought the woman to a hospital before arresting Marcantel. They also removed the animals.
“The house is completely destroyed," Stassi said. “You couldn’t breathe in that place.”