PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A disabled man and his girlfriend were living in absolute filth when they were found by Pasco investigators last week.
The couple had rented out a small space attached to the side of the Crystal Inn motel on US-19 in Holiday. Conditions in the room were so bad, investigators were left “shocked.” They called the conditions “deplorable” and said the space was unlivable. But the most outrageous thing about this case, according to detectives, is that the couple was being charged a whopping $929 per month for the room.
Investigators with the sheriff’s office’s human trafficking task force came across the home of Edward Hunt, and his girlfriend Kimberly while performing an inspection of hotels, bars and gentlemen’s clubs along US-19. They said the area was filled with trash, and they were surprised to find two people living in the space, which investigators described as uninhabitable.
Hunt and his girlfriend told News Channel 8, the small make-shift room was their “only option.”
Tucked away on the side of the motel, the room has no smoke detector and is frequented by rodents and bugs.
“Things need to be done to the place to fix it up or something,” Kimberly said.
“Terrible,” Edward said about the conditions. “I’m disabled. Couldn’t stand straight and I’m always trapped in this room and I can’t walk real far.”
But the couple says the room is their last resort. “For now, yeah, yeah. I’d be out on the street if we have to leave here,” said Kimberly.
News Channel 8’s Paul Mueller caught up with Dines Patel, one of the motel’s owners on Wednesday. Patel tried to dodge both the camera and questions when pressed about the room’s deplorable conditions and the alleged rent overcharge.
“Sir, listen to me,” Dines Patel said in response. “I have no time right now. I am going somewhere.”
When pressed further, Patel would only say a family member lived there at one time and then left.
Investigators say the owners have already been cited for trash issues. Code enforcement, the health department, and fire department are expected to issue more violations within the coming days.
“To see someone that is that vulnerable and that weak in that kind of condition and suffering the way this individual is suffering, obviously your heart is broken,” said Corporal Alan Wilkett of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.
The detectives returned to the motel on Wednesday to issue more violations and ensure the couple knew they were there for them in their time of need. And a team from BayCare and the Next Level Church even brought the couple food, toiletries, and other basic necessities. Their next step is finding the couple a permanent place to live.
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