Police: Alzheimer's patient locked in basement while family sold meth

by: Richard Elliot Updated:

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LITHIA SPRINGS, Ga. —

An elderly Alzheimer's patient is in state protective custody Friday after investigators said her daughter and granddaughter locked her in the basement of a Lithia Springs home while they dealt methamphetamine out of the house.

Ida McNeill and her daughter Merideth McNeill remain in the Douglas County jail on $71,000 bond each while a third man arrested at that home, Mark Gunby, is in jail on $30,000 bond.

Deputies said they got a tip the three were dealing drugs out of the house and set up a surveillance operation. After they obtained a warrant, Investigator Bryland Myers said they searched the home on North County Line Drive.

Myers said they found meth, digital scales, baggies used for drug distribution, and about 100 cellphones and flash drives they believe are stolen. He also said they found three small children in the home. But when he searched the downstairs and found a locked door, he was very surprised at what he found inside.

"Honestly, as a narcotics investigator, you find a locked door, you figure that's where the drugs are," said Myers. "You definitely don't ever expect to find an elderly woman being caged in a room with the windows covered, dirty conditions, no water, no way to get anything."

Investigators said it appears the McNeills kept the woman locked in the room off and on for six months. Deputies said the McNeills explained they were afraid she would get out and wander the neighborhood if they didn't lock her away. The room is described as being very small with cardboard covering the windows and no bathroom.

"She had no toilet, no water, no sink," said Investigator Trent Wilson. "In order for her to get out, to get to the bathroom, to get water or whatever, they would have to unlock the door to let her out or give her what she needed."

Deputies describe the 93-year-old woman as thin but apparently in good health. Adult Protective Services took the elderly woman into protective custody while DFCS took the small children.

Investigators expect to file more charges against the three.