MUNCIE, Ind. — The smell was nearly unbearable inside and outside a home on East 29th Street in Muncie.
Delaware County sheriff’s deputies were concerned it may have been coming from a decomposing body. That turned out not to be the case.
When they entered the residence on Tuesday, deputies couldn’t see the floor because of the amount of trash and feces piled up.
The health department later declared it uninhabitable.
But people were living in the house, including a child, who told investigators she’d lived there for years. Deputies found her lying on a filthy mattress surrounded by trash. A dog was also in the home.
“Words cannot describe how bad this residence was in every room,” a deputy wrote in the probable cause affidavit.
The conditions eventually led to the arrests of 48-year-old Demetrius Jones and 51-year-old Michelle Jones on preliminary charges of neglect of a dependent and neglect of a vertebrate animal.
Deputies initially went to the home for a welfare check after a caller told dispatchers a man at the address had missed several doctor’s appointments.
They were not prepared for what they saw and smelled inside the home.
One door had been pulled off its hinges, the entrance barricaded with trash. Deputies could barely open an upstairs door because trash had piled up so high. They pushed the door open just enough to see no one was inside the room. Police had to force a door open in order to gain access to a different room.
Everything was covered in cobwebs, from “the sinks to the refrigerators,” according to court documents.
The roof appeared to be caving in, and the girl told investigators the ceiling had been falling on her while she slept. When asked if she felt safe inside the home, she replied, “Not really.”
When Demetrius Jones arrived at the home, he told police he was “totally aware” of the home’s poor condition, adding that they’d been doing the best they could. When the health department declared the house inhabitable, Jones replied, “Oh, I totally agree 100%,” according to court documents.
Jones said the girl, his daughter, was being homeschooled, although the girl told police that hadn’t been the case for some time.
Demetrius Jones said his brother inherited the home in September 2022 after their mother died. Michelle Jones said the house had gone “downhill” over the last five years.
“The house just kinda started falling apart,” she told police, according to court documents. “It’s old [and] we didn’t want to put any money into fixing it because they were going to tear it down eventually.”
As for the welfare check that initially led to the investigation, the man—Demetrius Jones’ brother—returned home after leaving for a medical appointment.
Police also contacted the Department of Child Services and the health department as part of the investigation.