Unlicensed personal care home investigation turned over to local authorities

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News 12 First at Five/ Sept. 3, 2014

HEPHZIBAH, Ga. (WRDW) -- We're learning more about what investigators found inside an unlicensed personal care home in Hephzibah.

Health inspectors and Richmond County investigators found evidence of 17 people living in a three bedroom home off Anthony DeJuan Parkway.

Adult protective services placed the people living there, many disabled, elderly or mentally handicapped, in proper housing. But, neighbors still haven't quite gotten over the surprise two weeks ago, when chaos descended on their quiet street.

"I went across the street over there to find out what was going on," Fred, who lives across the street and wanted to remain nameless, said

Fred found out his neighbors were operating an unlicensed personal care home with 17 people living inside.

"Where were they putting them? Where were they putting them? I don't have any idea," he said.

The Department of Community Health opened the investigation after getting tips about several people living there. They were told many of the people slept on the floor in rooms without air conditioning. The whistle blower also reported a person in a wheelchair was bathed outdoors with a water hose. An inspector tried to take a look around a week earlier, but wasn't allowed inside.

The inspector says when she was leaving the home, she spotted two mattresses in the back yard. Sheriff's Office reports reveal there was very little food inside. They also found several dangerous violations, including broken smoke detectors and windows sealed shut.

We paid a visit to the house and caught up with the landlord who was cleaning the house out. He said the former tenants are no longer renting from him, and he was in the process of changing the locks on the home.

Piles of junk are stacked out by the curb. Neighbors said the owners have been hauling stuff out all week.

The Sheriff's Office is expected to turn this over to the DA's office for prosecution. This care home had previously filed for a license to house four people back in 2001, but a judge denied that request because an inspector found 14 violations at the property.

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