By Shelley Smith and Scott Jenkins
Rowan County Sheriff’s Detective Chad Moose on Thursday called the Rockwell Road home where David and Angela Lore are accused of forcing their children to live in squalor “the worst house I’ve ever seen.”
Arrested Wednesday at their pet store in Salisbury, the Lores remained in the Rowan County jail Thursday night, each held under $250,000 bond. Each is charged with four counts of child abuse, four counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and three counts of cruelty to animals. All the charges are misdemeanors.
They are scheduled to appear in court April 6.
Garbage surrounds their mobile home at 3435 Rockwell Road near the Cabarrus County line, and Moose said the inside looked just like the outside. He could smell it from the road Wednesday as he and others arrived to serve a search warrant.
“There was trash everywhere,” he said. “A strong smell of ammonia, animal urine in the house. It was filthy.”
Moose said there was little food in the cabinets, no running water and the commodes were stopped up, filled with what he said looked like human waste.
“The worst house I’ve ever seen,” he said. “There was so much stuff in there, we don’t really know what it was. Piles of stuff. Rotten food. It smelled of decaying flesh but we didn’t find any animal carcasses.”
An “infestation” of cockroaches filled the entire house, Moose said.
“They weren’t scurrying or hiding, it was just like we were in their territory,” he said. “I’ve never been anywhere (as) nasty, and I’ve been in every crack house in this county.”
Moose said the Rowan County Department of Social Services visited the mobile home Monday with Sheriff’s Detective John Brindle after receiving requests to check on the Lores’ four children. The children, ages 7, 9, 14 and 16, were there alone, he said.
The Lores had operated Pet Place at the Webb Road Flea Market, but after a massive fire destroyed the flea market in September, they moved to a shop at 848 S. Main St. in Salisbury.
“The parents worked at a shop uptown, and they would go open their shop and run their business every day, and their kids were home alone for long periods of time,” Moose said.
Social workers took the four children from the home Monday. Sandra Wilkes, director of the Rowan County Department of Social Services, said Thursday the children have been placed with family.
“They are in a relative’s home. They are safe, they are being taken care of, they’re clean and they’re getting enrolled in school,” she said. “I think the minimum I can say is they’re not in that home … and they’re getting good care.”
Wilkes said she couldn’t say any more about the children, or whether Social Services had received or responded to previous complaints about the home, because of “strict confidentiality rules.”
Authorities said the children had never been enrolled in public school. The family is registered with the N.C. Division of Non-Public Instruction as a home school under the name Rock Olive Academy. David Lore is listed as chief administrator.
Neighbors told a Post reporter on Wednesday they hardly ever saw the children. And officers with the Rowan County Home School Association said the Lores were not active in their group, which offers support as well as field trips and other activities to parents and children in home schools.
Bevin Fink, vice president of the association, said the Lores were affiliated with the group at one time but haven’t been for at least three years. William Brown, the organization’s president, said he and his wife Tammy have been “very active” in the association for five years and don’t recall ever seeing the Lores.
“We don’t know anything about them,” Brown said.
Even if the Lores weren’t living up to their responsibilities as educators as alleged, Brown said he’s concerned the charges will reflect “negatively, not accurately, but negatively” on the home-school community. He stressed that “delinquent parents can be found in all sorts of situations.”
“This is such an atypical situation,” he said. “The vast majority of home-schoolers are dedicated and conscientious about following state guidelines, that kind of thing.”
Different guidelines got law enforcement involved. Moose said the Sheriff’s Office got a search warrant after the detective accompany Social Services saw the condition of the house, which included two dead snakes rotting inside aquariums and three malnourished dogs that were taken by Rowan Animal Control.
He said as bad as conditions inside the home were when detectives served the search warrant Wednesday, they were better than the “horrendous” conditions Social Services workers found the children living in on Monday.
Authorities arrested David and Angela Lore at their pet shop on Wednesday.
“They were pretty angry when we arrested them, very angry in fact,” Moose said.
When the Lores were taken into custody, Moose said, animals in the back of the store didn’t have any food or water. Rowan Animal Control checked on the store Thursday and contacted the N.C. Department of Agriculture. The two agencies may visit the pet store today to assess the health and living conditions of the animals, he said.
Moose said the Sheriff’s Office had received complaints about the animals at the shop and about the dogs at the Lores’ home.
Not everyone is convinced the Lores deserve the charges they face.
Amy Hevenor has known the family since her husband got into reptiles six years ago and said he has bought several snakes from Pet Place over the years. Though she was a customer first, Hevenor said she is now a friend of the Lores.
She stopped by the shop Wednesday morning to check on the animals and said she’s also concerned about the well being of David and Angela Lore.
“I don’t think they did animal cruelty or child abuse,” she said. “I can’t pass judgement on someone. He (David Lore) has a heart of gold in him. I hope it goes OK and they can get out and take care of their animals.”
She said Angela Lore always had her daughters at the shop, and she doesn’t believe they were ever mistreated.
Hevenor mainly wants to see that the animals are cared for and checked on daily.
“I see them all in there. I see the lizards, I see the birds. Hopefully, someone will take care of them,” she said, looking into the store through a window.
Several people showed up at Pet Place shortly after Hevenor left. Some were looking for David Lore and some for feeder mice for their reptiles.
Someone is taking care of the animals, a woman outside of Pet Place said Thursday, but the store will remain closed for now.
Contact reporter Shelley Smith at 704-797-4246.
By Shelley Smith and Scott Jenkins