Christopher Huynh and Katie Son were arrested and charged for elder abuse after Gwinnett police discovered Son's mother Bong Le was living in harsh conditions. (Credit: Channel 2 Action News)

Mom, 86, escapes barricaded room, smelling of urine; couple charged

Bong Le was wrapped in a blanket and smelled of urine when officers found her under a tree not far from her home Wednesday evening, police said. 

Just hours later, her daughter, Katie Son, and son-in-law, Christopher Huynh, were charged with elder abuse. 

Gwinnett police were called to the 3500 block of Rosecliff Trace in Buford after neighbors spotted Le there. 

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The 86-year-old had left her home after being barricaded in a room filled with urine, according to a police report. It is not known where Son and Huynh were when Le escaped. 

Police found Le, who only spoke Vietnamese and communicated through a translator Gwinnett fire officials were using. After failed efforts of going door-to-door to find Le’s home, a neighbor finally led them to the 3400 block of Blanding Court, where Le stayed with Son and Huynh. 

There, police saw the window Le escaped out of propped open and furniture stacked on top of each other blocking a walkway to the kitchen. 

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“I asked Huynh why it looked like that and he explained it is to keep Le from going into the kitchen and possibly lighting the stove and burning the house down while (he) and Son are at work,” Officer J.R. Sorensen wrote in his report. 

But what struck a nerve with police was Le’s eating and sleeping conditions. 

As Sorenson walked inside the room, he noticed several animal urine mats next to a mattress on the floor. The floor, he said, had multiple yellow and dark black or brown stains. 

The room also reeked of urine. 

The couple told police they kept a towel under the door so that the smell wouldn’t spread to the rest of the house. 

Police said Huynh told them Le doesn’t wear adult diapers and he tries to clean up after her. 

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According to police, Le is often left in the room for nearly a full work day while Son and Huynh are at work. 

The couple told police they feed her before they got to work at 9 a.m. and leave food in a red chair for her to eat during the day while they are at work. Water is also left out for Son. The couple typically returns home about 6 p.m. 

Son’s daughter lives a few houses down and comes to check on her grandmother about 2 p.m. after school, but the visits aren’t daily. 

“So, you combine the lack of access to food and water with the living conditions, and that’s what led our detectives to take out warrants for their arrests,” Cpl. Michele Pihera told Channel 2 Action News. 

Huynh and Son were arrested at the scene, but are out of the Gwinnett County jail on a $5,700 bond each. According to Channel 2, the couple is not allowed near Le, who was taken to a hospital for treatment. 

Son denied the allegations in an interview with the news station. 

 In other news:

Atlanta police are giving the case of a missing woman a fresh look.