Bryan and Melissa Harr of Bristol, Virginia, appeared to keep their home in decent shape, but there was only only problem that a casual visitor could detect. That was the problem first noticed by Bristol Detective Robin McCoy last Monday, when she paid a visit to the Harr household in response to a complaint about the house.
The problem. The place smelled like an open sewer.
“When we walked through the front door, the smell was just horrific,” McCoy told Bristol TV station WCYB. “It was very terrible. I’ve been doing law enforcement for 14 years, and this is probably one of the worst cases I’ve seen.”
But she was unable to figure out what caused the stifling stench from the first floor, which otherwise appeared normally clean and well-appointed. And the detective was also aware the Department of Social Services had visited the Harr home earlier in the summer and noted an issue with a lock on an upstairs bedroom door.
So with the permission of Bryan, 39, and Melissa, 47, Detective McCoy went upstairs. And that’s where she found the problem — though to call it a “problem” would be the understatement of the year.
Three children were inside the room.
“They very generously took us upstairs to look at it and what we saw was horrid,” McCoy told the Bristol Herald-Courier newspaper. “There were mattresses on the floor and human excrement spread all over the room where the Harr’s three children ages, 9, 10, and 17, were kept.”
The oldest child locked inside in the feces-filled room was a teen boy who suffered from both autism and cerebral palsy, and was completely unable to care for himself.
Given the horror of the scene inside the locked room — locked from the outside — not to mention the dangerously unsanitary conditions, the detective said she was unable to explain why police had not been aware that three kids were living in conditions unfit for any sort of human habitation.
She was also at a loss as to how the DSS failed to report any issues with the Harr children.
“I just think DSS didn’t realize how bad the situation had gotten with the children,” she said.
Another puzzle is how Bryan and Melissa Harr, who seemed capable of maintaining a habitable household, lived with the nauseating odor that permeated the home, and perhaps more importantly, why they, according to the charges against them, treated their children with such cruel disregard.
Bryan and Melissa Harr had been keeping their children living in filth since the family moved into the house two years ago. The children have now been placed with the DSS, and the parents are being held without bond on three counts of child endangerment, each.
[Image: Bristol Jail]