SAINT PETERSBURG, Fla. — A St. Petersburg couple was arrested and charged with neglect after police say they found a man with intellectual disabilities in their care living in squalor, according to the St. Petersburg Police Department.
Officers said the Florida Department of Children and Families contacted the department for help investigating the case of a 22-year-old man who is non-verbal and has an intellectual disability.
"He was filthy. He was covered in feces," said police department spokesperson Yolanda Fernandez. "To find someone that is being treated less, worse than a pet and to be living like this in our very own backyard is really disconcerting."
According to police, the man was found running to the backyard. His living conditions were deplorable, the agency explained.
The 22-year-old reportedly was living behind a home in South St. Pete.
He was reportedly being forced to sleep outside and was allowed to stay in a makeshift hut in the backyard. He wasn't allowed inside the house. It was clear the man hadn't bathed in a while, and he was covered in feces, police said.
The 22-year-old's caretaker and father, 56-year-old Jeffeth Garvey, was arrested and charged with neglect of a disabled adult. His live-in girlfriend, 59-year-old Antoinette Mundy, was also charged with neglect of a disabled adult.
"Oh my gosh! I had never seen him covered in feces. Sometimes I'd pass him and he did smell like he hadn't showered in a while, but I had never seen anything like that," the couple's next-door neighbor said. "I didn't know that he couldn't go in the house or see the hut or anything. That's kind of crazy."
She didn't want to be identified but says she and her roommate called the police on the 22-year-old in the past for his uncontrollable yelling.
"When he was just so loud that it was disturbing our sleep, but they could really do anything about it," the neighbor explained. "I didn't realize at first that he actually lives there. I thought he was just a homeless person."
She says the young man was never violent. Arrest documents show both Garvey and Mundy told police he preferred to eat trash out of the garbage despite him being given food.
"That's terrible. I don't really know what to say," the neighbor said. "Like that's really sad. I just wonder what's going to happen to him now."
Police aren't sure how long the neglect was going on. Officers took the 22-year-old to the hospital, and he's now in DCF's care.
Garvey and his girlfriend made their first appearance Thursday morning. 10 Tampa Bay is still waiting for their next court date to be set.
Police do want to stress the importance of reporting cases like this. If you are someone or know of someone living in these conditions, please report it to the Florida Abuse hotline by calling 1-800-962-2873. It accepts reports 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.