31 dying cats pulled from Snellville hotel room

SNELLVILLE -- Thirty-one dying cats.

Thirty-one dying cats, sick with upper respiratory infections and open sores, missing splotches of hair, at least six pregnant.

Thirty-one dying cats, crammed into a Snellville hotel room, with a bathtub full of feces and diapers, the smell of urine detectable just by wandering onto the same floor.

Thirty-one dying cats -- and one 19-year-old boy with cerebral palsy -- are what Snellville police and Gwinnett County animal control officers allegedly found inside the room at Crestwood Suites, tucked behind a shopping center near the intersection of Scenic Highway and Ronald Reagan Parkway.

Thirty-one dying cats, 29 of which have since been euthanized, and a pair of sisters already out on bond following a similar discovery at their Loganville home.

"It was horrible," said Sgt. Chip Moore, director of the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.

Leah and Elisha Waller were arrested Wednesday, charged with cruelty to animals and exploitation of a disabled adult and issued 24 citations apiece: 23 for animal neglect, one for hoarding. Authorities initially reported to the hotel at 1784 Presidential Circle on Tuesday after an anonymous caller tipped off a manager, who went into the Wallers' room to check on their welfare.

"The smell was overwhelming," Snellville Police Det. Orlando Concepcion said.

When animal control officers knocked on the door later that day, Leah and Elisha reportedly attempted to hide the herd of tremendously ill felines inside the bathroom of their $40-a-night hotel room. That bathroom was ripe with dirty clothes, feces and urine, with a bathtub filled to the brim with more feces and diapers -- presumably from Leah's 19-year-old son, who has cerebral palsy.

The cats were seized, and all but two had been put down as of Thursday afternoon.

"We had no option but to humanely euthanize them because of the condition they were in," Moore said.

The scene was familiar for animal control officers who, almost exactly two months prior, had responded to the Waller home on Range Way in Loganville to find two dogs, one allegedly with a broken back and the other with an infected anus and its penis rotting off.

Both were living in awful conditions alongside Leah Waller's son.

"The grass was tall, yard covered in feces, trash in backyard, and standing water in the driveway and on the side of the house," a Gwinnett County police officer wrote in April. "A van in the driveway appeared to be where food was stored and contained various food items including mayonnaise. Along with trash and feces, the backyard also contained medical supplies and had an IV bag and IV hanging pole."

There were "inches of feces lining the floors" of the home, the officer wrote.

Both Wallers were arrested April 25 and released on bond. That case was still looming when they were arrested again Wednesday. This time they're being held without bond.

Only the dogs were recovered from the house in Loganville, but officers reported seeing cats around the premises in the days leading up to the Wallers' arrest, Moore said.

"We can't say for sure but the assumption is that (those in the Snellville hotel room) were the same cats," he said.

Concepcion, the Snellville police detective, said Leah Waller's disabled son was left with his uncle and that a report has been filed with the Department of Family and Child Services.

"While staying in the hotel room, the defendants would usually leave him by himself with the room in deplorable conditions," Concepcion said. "He is now safe with another family member."


Kat says...

Why wasn't the son placed in a safe environment after the first arrest?

Posted 28 June 2013, 6:31 a.m. Suggest removal

BrendaLee says...

This offends me that the management and/or staff did not notice someone bringing in 31 cats into Crestwood Suites and the associated smell. IMHO, the county Health Dept. and the City of Snellville Code Enforcement should do immediate inspections because it is highly likely that there are other health and safety issues with that hotel.

Posted 28 June 2013, 8:19 a.m. Suggest removal

suedehead says...

These women obviously need serious help. I hope DFCS was a little more on top of things and the same situation isn't occurring at the home of the uncle.

Posted 28 June 2013, 9:12 a.m. Suggest removal

Dubbin says...

Once again we see that the problems in our society are addressed by law enforcement doing an excellent job and then JUDGES and LAWYERS letting the scum bags back onto the street. These two women should be locked up for cruelty to the HUMAN BEING who was severely mistreated. The story seems to show more compassion for the cats.

Posted 28 June 2013, 9:17 a.m. Suggest removal

Nicholas says...

As it should.
Look, just as you seem to get upset with a human being being treated badly. There are a lot of us who have more (much more) empathy for animals than for human beings.

Posted 14 August 2013, 2:40 p.m. Suggest removal

Haughton says...

Unbelievable! These two again? This should not have happened a second time. I am with you Kat, the son needs to be in the custody of professionals that can take care of him.

I also agree with BrendaLee in that this extended stay motel (did not know that the city allowed these) needs to be punished harshly for this incident. Along with that Crestwood Suites needs to be investigated for criminal arrests coming out of this hotel with this address as a residence. Eastside is not the kind of hospital that needs an extended stay for family members to be close.

Snellville residents need to be very concerned. Contact the city to find out what can be done to make sure the hotel owner and management is investigated and punished appropriately.

Posted 28 June 2013, 9:34 a.m. Suggest removal

LilburnLady says...

These women should never be allowed to own any animals ever again. They should also never be allowed to regain custody of the 19-year-old. How hard is it to pick up droppings and flush them? How hard is it to throw a diaper or other garbage in the trash? And why, for heaven's sake, would you allow any animal to die a slow, painful death right in front of your eyes? This is laziness, cruelty and total disregard for the life of another human being. Both of these women should sentenced to some real jail time. It's obvious that this is a way of life for them and they did not learn from the first arrest.

Posted 28 June 2013, 11:27 a.m. Suggest removal

BrendaLee says...

LilburnLady, it's clear that these two women are mentally unhealthy and that the young man needs to be supervised by someone besides the two women. My issue is that the owner/operator, staff apparently failed to recognize there was an issue in that room before these women were arrested. According to the Crestwood Suites-Snellville web page, the largest room is 467 sq ft and the smallest is 235 sq ft. Really? Three adults, one in a wheelchair, and 30 plus animals. There are more red flags on this than just the Waller's issue.


Posted 28 June 2013, noon Suggest removal

mustardandbiscuit says...

This is only ONE room, one story from the Crustwood Suites. If the average citizen only knew what goes on in that place, they would be appalled and would petition the Mayor and Council to have the entire building demolished. It certainly isn't what it was intended to be?!

Posted 28 June 2013, 2:39 p.m. Suggest removal

John_Smith says...

You gotta love it when something that happens 5 miles from you makes national news.

Posted 2 July 2013, 6:07 a.m. Suggest removal