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Child Found in Feces-Filled Florida Home Where More Than 300 Rodents Had ‘Completely Taken Over Control’: Affidavit

Shannon Marie Morgan (Citrus County Sheriff's Office)

Shannon Marie Morgan

A 38-year-old woman in Florida was arrested for allegedly raising her child in a house filled with dozens of mistreated pets, feces, insects, trash, and more than 300 rodents.

Shannon Marie Morgan was taken into custody on Wednesday and charged with one count of willful child neglect and 12 counts of cruelty to animals – torture/infliction of pain/serious injury, court records reviewed by Law&Crime show.

According to an arrest affidavit obtained by Law&Crime, deputies with the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office at approximately 6:56 p.m. on Dec. 7 responded to a call regarding possible animal cruelty at Morgan’s home in Beverly Hills, Florida.

Upon arriving at the address, deputies and personnel with animal control said that could “smell a foul odor emitting from the residence while standing in the front yard,” the document said. After entering the home, the deputy who penned the affidavit wrote, it “immediately became difficult for me to breathe due to the ammonia from fecal matter and urine.”

Investigators said the living room was covered with cages and aquariums containing snakes and rodents with visible fecal matter building up inside. The cages did not contain food or water, authorities alleged.

“The snake enclosure and rodents cages were surrounded by flies, roaches and other bugs due to the infestation of feces and urine accumulation,” the document stated. “I then observed in one of the rodent’s cages to contain a deceased rodent. The rodent had been there for some time due to it being almost completely covered by bedding and other rodent feces.”

In the first bedroom, deputies found a dog and a ferret, both stuffed in cages “littered with urine and feces” and deprived of food and water.

Deputies said they found a child in the second bedroom (the victim’s age and name was redacted).

“I observed trash throughout the entire room and food. I observed empty drink cans and bottles lying all over the floor. There was a mattress where the victim slept which was lying directly on the ground and covered in roaches,” the affidavit states. “There were multiple cats within the room some of which were actively eating a dismembering a rat. There was blood on the ground and throughout the room from the rat. I did not observe food or water anywhere in the residence for any animal. I did not observe any bowls lying around in order to provide the animals with food or water.”

When Morgan opened the door to her room, the deputy said, the “smell of ammonia was horrid and I was not able to enter.” Looking in from the doorway, the deputy continued, there were approximately 50 rodents in cages and 200 to 300 other rodents “running freely.”

“I then observed from the door way the rodents had completely taken over control of the bedroom. The room was covered in urine and feces from the rodents,” the affidavit went on. “While looking into the room the defendant stated she is aware that it has gotten bad but has not gotten help until today when she called a rodent company. She stated she does not live at the residence anymore and she only come to the residence to check on it nightly due to the state it’s in.”

Morgan allegedly told deputies that she had become depressed with her living conditions and was attempting to “sabotage the animals and kill them so she didn’t have to deal with them.”

“Abuse of any kind should not be tolerated,” Sheriff Mike Prendergast said in a statement. “The conditions of this residence and the animals, in this case, were so bad, sheriff’s office personnel were cautioned about making entry. Neither children nor animals should ever endure this style of the environment.”

[Image via Citrus County Sheriff’s Office]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.