Five arrested in the abuse of 84-year-old Walton County woman

Walton County authorities issued arrest warrants Thursday for five people for their suspected roles in forcing an 84-year-old woman to live in “deplorable” conditions.

On Thursday, two days after the search of a trailer in rural Walton County, sheriff’s office Capt. Chris Cannon was still struggling to find the words to describe what he and other investigators found at a four-bedroom mobile home earlier in the week.

They had gone there to follow up on a report from a local hospital that had treated Alberta Defillipo Sunday night for injuries from a fall.

Consequently, charges were brought.

Defillipo’s daughter, Marianne Fonseca, and her husband, Matthew Fonseca, both 51, are charged with cruelty to a person over 65 and tampering with evidence. Marlon Fonseca, their son and Defillipo’s grandson, is facing the same charges. Neighbors Amanda and Elliot Gaines, both 34, are charged with tampering with evidence.

None of them is in custody but authorities expect all five to surrender later.

“It’s the nastiest thing I’ve ever seen in 23 years of law enforcement,” Cannon said of what he saw in the mobile home. “I just hope I never see anything like this again. It’s deplorable. It’s terrible.”

Defillipo remained in intensive care at a local hospital Thursday. In addition to her injuries from the fall, Cannon said Defillipo had other serious health problems.

According to Cannon, Defillipo’s skin stuck to her clothes when hospital staff tried to undress her so they could assess her injuries. He said he saw unhealed wounds on her leg and it appeared her skin was “rotting away.”

Defillipo lived in the double-wide mobile home with her daughter, her son-in-law and four grandchildren as well as two dogs, two cats and a gray rat that had been captured and was kept in a cage.

Cannon said the trailer was full of fleas, spiders and roaches, and rotting food had been left out.

“I’m at a loss for words,” he said. “This particular trailer park is not stereotypical. It’s kept up fairly well.”

Investigators have not questioned Defillipo because she is in pain from her fall, but they said she appears to be mentally sound.

So in the meanwhile, Cannon said, investigators were dispatched to assess the situation and to determine if Defillipo needed the attention of any social service agencies.

“We weren’t going out there to be bad guys,” Cannon said.

But the family refused to let them inside.

Investigators returned on Tuesday with a search warrant.

By then, the family and two neighbors had apparently tried to clean the place, Cannon said.

Investigators found about 40 bags of garbage piled up outside the mobile home, but the inside was still dirty, Cannon said. “Her room was the only thing I could see that might have been cleaned, or attempted to be cleaned,” Cannon said.

“When somebody brought something to the house, it never left,” Cannon said.

That included “refuse,” he added.