Animal hoarders in 'the house that smelled' charged in Fairfax County

In the neighborhood, neighbors say, it was known as “the house that smelled.” In reality, police say, it is the house that hoards.

On Friday police charged Fairfax County homeowners, 68 year-old John Bedwell and 70 year-old Madeline Bedwell with the civil misdemeanor of being unfit owners. Mr. Bedwell has additionally been charged with five counts of cruelty to animals.

“They just collect a lot of things and the house stinks,” Neighbor Kyle Mills said today in the Alexandria area of Fairfax County, “It smelled like ammonia and cat urine.”

Hazmat teams were called because of the high level of air toxicity inside and pulled some of the animals from the home. Six live cats were recovered Friday. Police say today that they still expect to find significantly more animals – either dead or alive – inside. Neighbors estimate they believe as many as 20 cats could still be inside.

The homeowners, whose relationship is unknown, are charged but not in custody – released with a summons to appear in court.

Police cannot get back inside the house because it has been boarded up and declared unsafe to enter. Today large orange placards hung on the door warning that no one should enter the premise because of inhabitable conditions. The backdoor and windows were boarded up.

Police say it wasn’t just animal hoarding that made the home this way, the concern was mostly the general hoarding which may have made flooring unsafe due to the amount of collected items.

Neighbors today confessed they always sensed something was wrong on the inside of this house because of what they observed from the outside, odd behavior sometimes from their neighbors and a collection of things in their car.

The owner’s car, still parked outside today, was packed to the brim with trash bags, old shopping bags, light bulbs and just general trash filling up the whole backseat of their car, blocking the back seat windows completely.

Neighbors we spoke to today say they are shocked – but not at all surprised – by what police found inside.

“We kind of had a feeling about it,” Jessica Arandia said today in the neighborhood, “we kind of knew what was going on but I don’t think we knew about that side of it. Which makes it even more sad.”

Neighbor Fatima Ghoumary said that while her neighbors were always pleasant it still is very sad and presents a problem for everyone who lives in the townhome community.

“It destroyed the neighborhood,” Ghoumary said, “They should have gotten help or a long time ago until it got to this extreme.”

Police have traps set up inside to safely and humanely catch the remaining live cats in the home. They’ll be checking the traps a few times a day to be able to keep the animals safe.

Once the home is made and deemed safe to enter police will be able to determine just how extreme the hoarding really is inside.