Newly-released video from public health and safety officials in Webster, Massachusetts, shows paramedics and firefighters removing a 96-year-old woman from her dangerously squalid home.
That woman's son was later charged in the case.
The video was taken from inside 31 West Point Dr., a run-down house across from the picturesque Webster Lake. The Webster Fire Department said it found three or more feet of trash, rotting food and feces inside the property on West Point Road. They also said they discovered piles of clothes and other household items, moldy walls, and a bathroom so cluttered and without running water, it was unusable. In the video, a bucket could be seen on the toilet.
Officials believe that bucket actually served as the toilet for the resident, Helen Robillard. They say the home has been without running water for at least two years.
"She had a little three-foot section of a couch to pretty much live in," said Webster Police Lt. Michael Shaw. "The odor was disgusting - trash, feces, just absolutely nasty."
"At 96 years old, God bless her, she's very strong," said Chief Brian Hickey of the Webster Fire Department.
Hickey explained officials came to the home after the water department alerted them to odors and clutter visible from windows when utility employees went to check on a problematic water meter.
The officials scooped up Robillard, carried her out, and said she's now in a nursing home.
Police say Michael Robillard, the woman's 68-year-old son, is now charged with permitting injury to an elder. They say he is due in a Dudley courtroom soon, and that he is expected to turn himself in.
Michael Robillard lives across the street in a house officials say is not much better. Both homes are now condemned.
Neighbors say the elderly woman didn't want anyone inside her home.
"She didn't want anyone in there, she didn't even want him in there," said Susan Rivernider.
Another neighbor says he knows Michael Robillard, and that he'd walk over to bring his mother food and water.
He said the man is "highly educated," and that it's a "shock" to everyone.
Chief Hickey said a team of public safety and health experts needed air packs to breathe in the space, or they'd have been overwhelmed by the noxious stench of human waste and other filth.
"You think about not being able to stand up on your own, not being to take care of yourself, and relying on somebody to do that for you," Chief Hickey said. "And being basically trapped in your own home. That's a sad story."
Investigators said Michael Robillard would bring his mom food and bottled water, but that the lack of action on her living conditions was extremely dangerous.
Neighbor Susan Rivernider said the property has been messy for a long time, but no one seemed to know just how bad it had gotten.
"She hasn't been out for a long time," Rivernider told necn, describing Mrs. Robillard. "She didn't want anybody in there. She absolutely didn't even want [Michael Robillard] in there."
The town of Webster's health inspector, Jen Sullivan, said she wants to see Helen Robillard's house destroyed, and significant improvements made to Michael Robillard's house around the corner.
Sullivan said Michael Robillard has a lawyer and they have been quite communicative and cooperative regarding what changes will be necessary to his property.
A court date was not immediately known for Michael Robillard on the summons Lt. Shaw described.