for immediate release
August 9, 2002

N E W S   R E L E A S E

The mother of a 14 year old boy been arrested as the result of an exhaustive investigation into the death of her son in northern Okaloosa County last fall.

Michelle Wesson, age 33 (8-16-68), was arrested late this afternoon (Friday afternoon) in Crestview on charges of Felony Child Neglect and Cruelty to Animals.

The arrest is the result of an investigation by the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office into the death of 14 year old James Alford on November 11, 2001. The Medical Examiner's Office cited septicemia as the cause of death, likely as the result of extremely unsanitary living conditions . The teen died at the family home on Hard Times Lane in Holt, west of Crestview; other children and family pets were removed from the house that day. Ms. Wesson later moved to the DeFuniak Springs area.

At the scene of the child's death, the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office documented unsanitary conditions including soiled toilet paper and animal waste material on the floor of the living quarters. The Investigation revealed a pattern of several years of hazardous living conditions and failure to provide necessary care of her children.

for the The Panhandle Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) reported all of the dogs and cats found at the residence were underfed and ill; some in such poor health they had to be euthanized.

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for more information contact Rick Hord, Public Information Officer

(850) 651-7420

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