CAPE CORAL – Cape Coral Police say they found piles of trash and cat feces in an apartment in the southeast part of the city. They think Lisa Velez subjected her two autistic children to the unsanitary living conditions.
As night falls, the trash heap is a little smaller. Scores of people have been stopping by to scavenge the wreckage.
Nearby neighbor tell me they their suspicions something was afoul inside the home, this is now their proof.
A small breeze rustles the wreckage. A bounty of toys, boxes, and bags…soiled by afternoon rains and cat urine. Neighbor Nancy Santana recalls the scenes that put it all in perspective for her.
“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,” she said.
Though Santana decided to mind her own business, there was concern for what was happening at 320 Southeast Grew.
“One time, my husband went out to go to the store and he caught the little girl running out there was a slide in the front, she came out buck naked, just playing,” she said.
It was over the weekend that the Department of Children and Families stepped in–along with Cape Coral Police–the shocking discovery was made.
Cape police describe what looked like an autistic child and autistic adult living in horrific conditions.
Both are Velez’s children.
Officers describe Lisa Velez’s home as layered in moldy food, dirty clothes, roaches and diseased cats.
“Then another animal control came, then the police came, then a car came then it was just total chaos,” Santana said.
A total of 8 cats were found, 4 of which are now in animal control custody.
At one point, the report states one of her children asked if they could go with the cats to be bathed too.
“It breaks my heart that she had to live like that,” she said.
Velez’s next door neighbor recalls her encounters with the little girl, too.
“A couple of times I saw her in my backyard. She’d come in through my lanai, she’d try to take things from my backyard,” she said.
Investigators say Velez’s husband had recently returned to the home, and despite his efforts to try and keep things clean, he was stopped by Velez.
Police tell us during the investigation she didn’t understand why everyone was making a “big deal.”
Officers with the Cape Coral Police Department arrested Velez on child neglect and animal cruelty charges. She’s in jail on $40,000 bond.