Orange County school worker charged with neglect of elderly mother

Aide left 83-year-old mother in motel room with feces, cat urine, police say

Published On: Jan 12 2014 10:15:56 AM EST   Updated On: Jan 13 2014 07:25:59 PM EST
APOPKA, Fla. -

Apopka police arrested a woman employed with Orange County schools after they found her and her elderly mother living in a filthy motel room with more than a dozen cats.

Police charged 39-year-old Rhonda Lee Miller, a teacher's aide at Apopka High School, with neglect after finding her 83-year-old mother in a motel room covered in cat urine and feces.

[PICS: Cats seized from Apopka hotel]

Police found Miller, her mother and 16 cats at the Crosby Motor Inn on West Orange Blossom Trail on Saturday afternoon. When the officer arrived, he could smell the odor of cat urine several rooms down and discovered both women living in the filthy room, according to the report.

Police said there were cats all over the room and the beds had only a comforter on them. Cat urine, feces and litter box gravel were caked into the carpets of the room.

"There's no way anyone that's thinking clearly could be in that room," said motel manager Megan Miller. "You couldn't breathe right and the mom never came out of the room."

The elderly woman, who suffers from medical issues and dementia, was taken to Florida Hospital Apopka for treatment.

Police questioned Miller and found she hadn't taken her mother to the doctor in more than six months and had only been occasionally feeding her.

According to the report, Miller said for her mother's last big meal she fed her a McDonald's Big Breakfast a week or so ago. Miller also said her mother had chips for breakfast that morning.

Miller told police she cleaned the room daily and washed the linens and did not understand why they thought the room was dirty.

Police said nurses at the hospital discovered caked feces and urine stains on the socks of the victim, as well as, flea bites, scratches and sores on her body.

Miller told Local 6 she didn't mistreat her mother.

Miller was taken to the Orange County Jail on a $1,000 bond and the Department of Children and Family Services is investigating.

Miller assists the teacher in special education classrooms and has worked with the school district at Apopka High School since 1992. She is on unauthorized leave without pay as of Monday.

The Cat Protection Society of Eustis will attempt to find homes for the cats.

Local 6 found that Miller has been accused of neglect before. A neighbor where Miller used to live called deputies to report she was worried Miller's mother wasn't being fed, but Miller was never charged.