Brevard woman charged with child abuse after animal hoarding

By Greg Pallone, Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, January 09, 2018, 5:34 PM EST

A Brevard County woman was arrested for child abuse after keeping her son in nasty conditions in the Palm Bay home they shared with dozens of animals — some of them dead.

  • Brevard woman accused of keeping her son in bad conditions
  • Michelle Murray, 38, reportedly hoarded dozens of animals
  • Son instructed not to go outside, answer the door

"It's horrendous," said Nick Cleto, who lives next door to the home where police and animal services officers spent Monday and Tuesday. "I couldn't fathom living in there."

He called authorities, worried about the well-being of the boy who lives there.

"Since I moved in three years ago I've been concerned. There's been commotion there," he said.

DCF investigators came to the house, and police arrested 38-year-old Michelle Murray on child abuse charges.

Once they arrived, they realized the situation was severe.

Fifty-eight animals, mostly cats and a few dogs were living there too -- the floor and nearly every surface was caked with feces and urine.

Five cats were dead, one of them decaying on the floor under a couch. Most are malnourished.

The smell inside the house was also unbearable.

"I could smell the house from outside, I would never go inside," Cleto said.

The boy is now in protective custody pending court orders. Officials said he has broken and decaying teeth, and is malnourished.

The boy told investigators he hasn't seen a doctor in two years and has never gone to the dentist.

He also said he's not allowed outside during the day, and his mother instructed him to never answer the door. The only time he gets fresh air is when his mother is home.

Murray stood in court Tuesday charged with child abuse and animal neglect.

Investigators said she had no answers for her home being in that state, other than hurricane damage.

The animals are also getting care. Eighteen cats and dogs are at the Brevard Sheriff's Office Animal Services facility, getting vet attention.

More than a dozen more were taken in by a local pet rescue, with the goal of getting them adopted.

For Cleto, he's thankful the child and animals are in a better place.

"I want peace for everybody," says Cleto. "I just want it done and over with."

Murray is being held in the Brevard Jail on a $5,000 bond. She cannot have contact with the child, or own, or care for any animals.

Her next court date is Feb. 1.