Florida Police Free 3 Children and 245 Neglected Animals From Edgewater Animal Farm

Edgewater Police have freed three children and 245 animals found in a deplorable state in a family home on Sunday, Oct. 20. Three adults were charged with child neglect and animal abuse.

Police officers responding to a call conducted a wellness-check at a home located in Royal Palm Drive, Edgewater, Florida. They found three children, all girls, ages 8, 9, and 10. They also found an abundance of animals, some alive, some in decay, living amid rotten food, and their excrement.

Officer Anthony Binz’s report said it was “the absolute worst residence I have been to regarding the overwhelming odor of ammonia, animal hoarding and just the everyday living conditions in which these three juveniles have had to endure,” Click Orlando reported.

Police said in a release on Facebook it was “immediately evident neither the children nor the animals were being cared for properly.”

Hamilton and Nelson
Melissa Hamilton left, and Susan Nelson, right, was charged with three counts of child abuse and 66 counts of animal cruelty (Volusia County Jail)

Three adults, Susan Nelson, 43, Gregg Nelson, 57, and Melissa Hamilton, 49, were charged with three counts of child abuse and 66 counts of animal cruelty on Monday, according to the Daytona Beach, The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.

The list of animals the police found include: four dogs, two cats, nine living guinea pigs, 12 rabbits, four hamsters, 10 sugar gliders, 14 birds, one gecko, one tortoise, one hedgehog, seven bearded dragons, one leopard spotted gecko, 95 mice, 60 adult rats, and 23 baby rats, according to the Facebook post.

EPD officers and Edgewater Animal Control removed the animals, who are now in the Edgewater Animal Shelter.

The neighbors had complained for years about the smell and the dogs barking at night and children running barefooted down the streets chasing loose animals. Still, nothing got done in all that time.

Wesley Fuquay, who lives across the street from the home, said the Nelsons and Hamilton kept to themselves. Recently Gregg Nelson told him he wanted to end his marriage with Susan Nelson and his relationship with live-in girlfriend, Hamilton. He said he could not stand the stench and the bad living conditions any longer.

“The husband had told me the house was really dirty, and he was moving out because they wouldn’t keep it clean, but I just couldn’t imagine it being that bad,” Fuquay said.

Nelson wanted to take the children with him, but his wife wouldn’t let him. Meanwhile, Hamilton took 17 Xanax pills in an attempt to end her life because she couldn’t live without him, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.

Hamilton was taken to a hospital for medical treatment and mental evaluation and was booked into the Volusia County Jail Monday morning.

Gregg Nelson complained of pains in his chest and was transferred to Advent Health New Smyrna Beach for investigation. He is not yet under arrest as of Tuesday. Susan Nelson was granted a pretrial release by Volusia County Court.

The children were rendered into the custody of a responsible family member by the Department of Children and Families.

Edgewater Police Department posted an appeal on Facebook for help and donations:

“The shelter is in need of donations which can be dropped off at 605 Mango Tree Drive in Edgewater. EPD is accepting donations for the children, too (all girls). They can be clothing items, toys or monetary donations,” it said. “These items will be accepted at the Edgewater Police Department, located at 135 East Park Avenue, Edgewater, FL 32132. Please ensure the donations are in new condition. Monetary donations for the children can be made to the Edgewater Police Volunteers Association at the Police Department lobby.”

Edgewater Animal Shelter also posted an appeal for help on Facebook, stating, “any and all help at this point is appreciated.”