Florida Family Lived With Dead Body, Collected Woman’s Social Security Benefits

Holly Hill, FL — A family of five was found living with a dead body Thursday.

The Department of Children and Families contacted police in Holly Hill, Florida, to request a well-being check at a home on Center Avenue after it was unable to contact its client for over a month.

Officers forced their way into the home and found the body of 33-year-old Tiffany Cain in advanced stages of decomposition, according to WFTV. Authorities believed Cain had been dead for at least two weeks.

After entering the home, police found 38-year-old Todd Christopher La Duke and 32-year-old Nicole Louise Scalise in a room directly across the hall from the bedroom where Cain’s body was discovered. A 4-year-old child was also in the room, and it was later determined that the couple had two other children, ages 6 and 11, also living in the home. The two older children were at school at the time.

Investigators also found dog feces and urine in the home, as well as evidence of drug abuse. Authorities said the family had been living in deplorable conditions for several months.

Todd Christopher La Duke and Nicole Louise Scalise admitted to using Tiffany Cain’s EBT and Social Security Benefits. Investigators believe the couple continued to exploit Cain’s benefits after her death. They claimed they didn’t know that Cain was dead because she often went away for days at a time.

“This is perhaps the worst case of child endangerment I’ve seen in my 30 years in law enforcement,” said Holly Hill Police Chief Mark Barker. “Disgusting.”

Barker said Cain had been living at the residence for several years. She suffered from spina bifida, a congenital defect of the spine which often causes paralysis of the lower limbs, and was confined to a wheelchair.

La Duke and Scalise are being held on charges of child neglect and failure to report a death to the medical examiner at the Volusia County Jail. They are also charged with theft of utility services for illegally connecting water and electrical service to the residence.

The three children are currently in the care of the Department of Children and Families.

“We are fortunate that these children have been removed, are in a safe place today and that these individuals have been brought to justice,” Barker said.

Tiffany Cain died of natural causes, but police are continuing to investigate. La Duke’s bond was set at $33,000 and Scalise’s was set at $14,000.

In April, a North Carolina man was arrested and charged with concealing a death from law enforcement after his girlfriend’s body was found in their bedroom. Randall Johnson, 44, slept next to the dead body of 48-year-old Jean Baggett for three days. Relatives finally contacted police, and officers found Baggett’s decomposing body inside the couple’s single-wide mobile home. They believed Baggett died from an overdose of Xanax.

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