In a case one investigator called one of the worst of his career, defendant Mark Gunby was given a $37,000 bond in Douglas County Magistrate Court Friday morning.
Gunby is one of three defendants investigators say locked a 93-year-old woman suffering from Alzheimer’s in a bedroom. The woman was found living in squalor by police checking out a tip of possible drug activity.
Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Trent Wilson said that 61-year-old Ida Elizabeth McNeill, her daughter, 33-year-old Meredith Onata McNeill; and 32-year-old Gunby were arrested late Monday on drug charges after meth and drug-related objects were found in the home off North County Line Road in Lithia Springs.
The McNeills also face elder abuse charges as well as three counts of cruelty to children. Gunby faces the same charges as well. From the conditions described in bond hearings, it’s remarkable that the woman was still alive. Wilson said the women claimed that because of the victim’s disease, they locked her in for her own protection.
Gunby denied any involvement, saying McNeill was his ex-girlfriend, and he moved out of the house July 15, only visiting the house to check on one of the child victims.
“I had just walked up there not even 20 minutes before,” said Gunby, who has 24 previous arrests. “I opened the door for these officers.”
He also named an address where he said he lives now.
Wilson said that Ida McNeill indicated that her mother was suffering from Alzheimer’s and that was the way that they had decided to keep her from roaming off. But Wilson said the conditions of the home were some of the worst he has ever seen. There was no restroom inside the room, and the signs of neglect were obvious.
“She told us that she put the locks up about four to six months ago and judging from what we found, it doesn’t look like there had been much cleanup during that time,” Wilson said. “There were at least 14 cats inside the home and dogs inside along with the child children who were 2, 7, and 9. Judging from what we found, it appeared that we were dealing with a hoarder.”
Gunby reiterated some of the details during his Friday hearing, saying he once saw the elderly woman eating cat litter. He also described the women as “hoarders” and recalled times he had thrown things away, only to have the women pick items back out of the trash can.
Wilson said previously there was trash scattered about the residence, and animal feces was also present in multiple locations. Dirty dishes, discarded food, soiled laundry, pet hair and multiple bags of trash filled the living space, Wilson said. Investigators immediately called the Department of Family and Children Services, which took custody of the children, while Adult Protective Services is making sure the elderly victim is being cared for and is assessing her health, Wilson said.
A Douglasville Police Department investigator, Sharon Carroll, said Friday she’d seen the house as well, and she “wouldn’t let my dog live there.”
According to Gunby, two of the children had also already moved out of the house.
Douglas County Magistrate Court Judge Susan Camp asked Gunby if he could pass a drug test for meth. He said he could. Camp set bond at $37,000. Bond had been set at $71,000 for Ida McNeill and Meredith McNeill on Thursday, but Gunby had to be brought back, as his charges hadn’t been finalized.