Nation & World

Bedridden woman found with maggots, roaches. Husband, son charged with neglect

Terry Sorrells (left) and Christian Sorrells have been charged with neglect of a disabled or elderly person.
Terry Sorrells (left) and Christian Sorrells have been charged with neglect of a disabled or elderly person. Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office

When the county fire and emergency services department responded to a call for medical assistance from a home in Gwinnett County, Georgia, a few days ago, it felt a "moral obligation" to tell the police what was discovered.

The stench of human feces and garbage inside the home overwhelmed firefighters and police.

A woman was in bed, lying on a sheet smeared in feces, maggots and cockroaches feasting on her flesh and her decomposing legs, according to the police report. Fire officials didn't think she was long for this world.

The woman's caretakers, Terry Ward Sorrells, 54, and Christian Alexander Sorrells, 18, were arrested and charged with neglect of a disabled adult or elder person, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Though the woman's name has not been released, some outlets have reported that the caretakers were her husband and son.

The fire department arrived on March 15. About a month earlier the same crew transported the woman home from the hospital. They used a "Mega Mover," a tarp-like sheet with handles made for transporting larger patients, WXIA-TV in Atlanta reported.

"The patient was still on top of the same mega mover they used a month ago," the incident report said. Only now, the normally white tarp was black and brown and covered in feces.

The woman's legs were completely black and had begun decomposing, the police report said. She was unresponsive, but still alive.

Gwinnett police told Fox 5 in Atlanta it was one of the worst cases of neglect they'd ever seen.

"She had been laying there for quite some time, not receiving proper care," Gwinnett County Police Cpl. Wilbert Rundles told the TV station.

According to the Associated Press, Terry Sorrells told police the woman had been in a long-term care facility but had to leave when Medicaid would not cover the cost. He said she had been bedridden for about two years and had been getting progressively worse.

Reportedly no one in the home worked and money was tight.

Police described the living conditions in the home as deplorable. Roaches crawled on the walls and ceilings of "every single room." The floor from the entryway to kitchen was littered with garbage, as was the bathroom floor. A pile of empty Monster energy drink cans stood "approximately 2 feet tall" in one bedroom.

Both men were booked into the Gwinnett County Detention Center, each held on a $22,200 bond, the AP reported.

One next-door neighbor told Fox 5 he'd known the family for about five years and did not believe the men meant to harm the woman. They just didn't know to help her, he said.

"I can't blame whoever is in the house at the same time, I can't blame them because I know they couldn't do it," the neighbor said. "Terry got a heart condition, in my opinion, he wasn't capable of taking care of that woman."

Her condition is unknown.