BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. (WSET) — On September 15, the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office along with the Department of Social Services responded to Jeters Chapel Road to conduct a home visit for an 18 y/o student with autism who was not attending school.
Deputies said they arrived at the home, and it was found to be heavily overgrown, with sounds of dogs barking coming from inside the residence along with extreme odors emitting from the house.
According to Captain Shannon Zimmerman with the Bedford County Sheriff's Office investigators and animal wardens described it as a very horrific scene.
"They said it's one of the worst places they've seen over their years as far as how that people were living in it," Zimmerman said.
During the investigation, the sheriff's office learned that the mother had abandoned the two children at the home. Animal Control responded to the residence and found badly emaciated and deceased animals at and in the residence.
Bedford County's Criminal Investigation Unit responded to help due to the report of Child Abandonment. They said many animals were transported to Riverside Veterinarian Clinic for assessment and care.
Deputies said the suspect, Colleen Lagines, 38, was arrested on September 16 and charged with 4 counts of Felony Child Abuse and Neglect.
Zimmerman said Lagines is the homeowner and the mother of the two children. He said the arrest was made after an interview with her.
They said she is currently held with no bond.
This is an ongoing investigation for all allegations and additional charges may be sought at the completion.
"They're still working on some interviews, and some further investigation techniques to try to get all the details of the case and to finalize it, to present to the court, Zimmerman said.
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WARNING: Some of the photos of the dogs rescued may be hard to look at due to the animals being severely emaciated and covered in sores.
The Sheriff’s Office is thanking Bedford County Social Services, Bedford County Community Development, and Riverside Veterinarian Clinic for their assistance with this case.
"This is just the beginning for these rescued animals, and they will require additional care and treatment, so if anyone in the public would like to help, 'friends of Bedford County Animal Shelter' are a nonprofit and accept donations which would be put to good use helping these animals," the sheriff's office said.
As for the children, Zimmerman said they are with social services in a secure location and are healthy.
The sheriff's office said they are always working to learn more about how long the two children were left home alone.
The investigation is ongoing.