Tavares Woman Arrested for Child Neglect and Animal Cruelty After Home Found Covered in Roaches, Feces and Urine

TAVARES, Florida—An allegation of poor living conditions to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) led to the arrest of a Tavares woman last week, according to an arrest affidavit.

Tavares Police responded to a home on Hunterwood Lane in reference to a DCF call alleging poor living conditions, including animal feces and a roach infestation on Jan. 14. As the arresting officer approached the home, she could “smell the strong odor of rotten meat and cat urine emitting through the closed garage door,” the arresting officer noted in the affidavit.

Melody Anne Sargent, 45, met DCF and TPD at the home and “immediately became hysterical” when she found out the reason for the visit. Sargent told them she was “trying to fix the issue” and was currently in the process of moving out because she could not control the cockroach infestation. She said she had a temporary place to stay while she moves her belongings into a storage unit, and she had been moving things for the past week, but later admitted that was a lie. She also said a juvenile in the home had been staying somewhere else, but later admitted that was a lie too.

She warned the officer and the investigator of the infestation inside the home and said her 1-year-old Husky had diarrhea and had been defecating throughout the home, along with three cats that have a litter box, but one was urinating and defecating throughout the home as well. She also said there was rotten meat inside an unplugged freezer in the garage that had been there about a month, the affidavit states.

Melody Sargent PHOTO: Lake County Sheriff’s Office

The following was taken directly from Sargent’s arrest affidavit.

“As we entered the residence, the house appeared in disarray as items were throughout the living room area. The items were covered in cockroaches as well as the doors and walls as they were crawling throughout the home. The strong odor of rotten meat and cat urine was strong enough that l had to remove myself from the home multiple times/ (TPD) Officer walked through the residence with DCF observing multiple piles of feces throughout the floor. The feces and cat urine had been piled throughout the home as it was dry and had cockroaches on top. This continues through the dining room area and into the kitchen. The kitchen appeared to be unusable as there were items stacked all over the counter with a large number of cockroaches crawling in/on everything. We located what appeared to be two dog food containers which had cockroaches and maggots crawling in and around them, The food bowls were also covered in dry urine along with the majority of the floor, per (TPD) Officer. (TPD) Officer also located the above-mentioned Husky in a cage in the back room. The dog appeared to be underweight per (TPD) officer and was locked inside a cage with dried urine and feces in/around it. The dog had no direct access to any food or water as everything was covered in cockroaches or urine. “

DCF spoke with all the occupants in the home and one of them said the roach infestation began about a year ago and they attempted to control it with bug spray, but it got worse over time. Another occupant said they commonly stepped in dog feces and urine while trying to walk through the home.

Sargent admitted knowing the conditions were not suitable for any person or animal to live in and she was arrested for child neglect and animal cruelty. She was taken to the Lake County Jail, where she was released on $3,000 bond.

The child/children were placed in someone else’s care and the animals were turned over to Lake County Animal Services.

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