Sun City West Woman Charged With Keeping Kid in Poo-Ridden Home, After 87-Year-Old Man Found Handcuffed to a Bed

A Sun City West woman was charged with child abuse after Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies found a 14-year-old kid living in a house littered with the feces of more than a dozen dogs and cats.

That was only after deputies found an 87-year-old man handcuffed to a bed, who was "wearing a diaper that appeared not to have been changed for a very long time," the Sheriff's Office says.

Tara Ann Bergland-Haugo von Rothlisberg, 56, was running that household, the MCSO says.

According to court documents obtained by New Times, an employee of a solar-panel company went to the home for a scheduled appointment, where he noticed that it smelled absolutely awful.

Out of concern that something may have happened to an elderly person, the worker phoned up the cops.

Deputies searched the house, finding nine cats in one room, four dogs roaming around, and an elderly gentleman wearing nothing but a diaper handcuffed to a bed.

Aside from being handcuffed, the man was also tied down with soft restraints, and was laying in his own feces, according to the documents.

In addition to that, the man also appeared to be "very thin and malnourished," and was taken to a hospital.

Rothlisberg showed up to the house during all this, and let deputies know that was her uncle handcuffed to the bed.

She said she was the one who "cares" for her uncle, and when she showed up at her house at 12:30 p.m. yesterday, she mentioned that she'd left her uncle that way since the previous night, according to the documents.

Rothlisberg said she bought the handcuffs online, and said she restrains him to the bed because "he gets out of bed and falls a lot."

She said she had no idea it would be against the law to tie someone to a bed, adding that her mother, a retired nurse -- whom she'd been driving around all morning -- actually suggested the idea.

When she left the house that morning, she left him handcuffed because "he wasn't awake yet, so [she] decided to leave him like that," according to the documents.

After adding in that her 14-year-old daughter lives at the house too, deputies decided to ask her what was up with the dog and cat shit all over the house.

Rothlisberg said she didn't have time to clean the house because she was driving her mother around.

The sheriff's office adds that temperatures were higher than 90 degrees in every room of the house, except Rothlisberg, who had an air-conditioning unit in her bedroom.

Child Protective Services is now involved, as Rothlisberg was booked into jail on both elderly abuse and child abuse charges.

Her uncle's still in the hospital in stable condition.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley