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Mary Lou Petrucci Hoarded Animals, Held 72-Year-Old Ex-Boyfriend Hostage, Police Say

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Mary Lou Petrucci is accused of animal hoarding and holding a 72-year-old man captive, police say.
Mary Lou Petrucci is accused of animal hoarding and holding a 72-year-old man captive, police say.

Police in Pennsylvania say they have arrested an animal hoarder who was holding a senior citizen captive inside her home.

Mary Lou Petrucci, 55, of Reading, Pa., was arrested Friday and charged with false imprisonment of another person and reckless endangerment.

According to police, Petrucci had dozens of animals inside her home and was keeping her ex-boyfriend, 72-year-old Harold Scheaffer, inside a locked room in the home. The windows in the room had been nailed shut and the man was fed just once a day, police said.

Scheaffer's daughter told The Huffington Post Tuesday that she discovered her father, who suffers from the early stages of dementia, being held in the home against his will. The daughter said Petrucci's current boyfriend is the one who told her that her father was being held. The boyfriend was living in a car parked at the residence, according to the daughter.

Sheaffer's daughter alleges that Petrucci's boyfriend helped her rescue her father after she paid him to help.

"She kept [my father] in that house with no running water," said Scheaffer's daughter, who asked that she not be identified. "The house smelled like a litter box and was full of cat urine and feces."

When police questioned Harold Scheaffer, they said he told them that he was held captive for about two months. He said he was unable to remember the exact dates of his captivity, according to police.

On Friday, when authorities arrested Petrucci, they found animal feces throughout her house and more than a dozen animals -- a dog, two raccoons, a turtle, eight cats and multiple fish, according to ABC. Some of the animals were in cages, while others had free roam of the home, police said.

Friday's arrest is not Petrucci’s first run-in with the law. In June, 20 cats, six rats, five hamsters and four dogs were removed from her home.

"The conditions are terrible," Harry Brown, the executive director of the Animal Rescue League, told WFMZ.com in June. "No human should have to live like that and no animal should have to live like that."

Petrucci is awaiting trial on 25 animal-cruelty charges related to the June case.

Alison Rudy, a volunteer with the Animal Rescue League, told WFMZ that Petrucci was a repeat offender.

"She does know better. She's been through this before," Rudy said.

Rudy was referring to an incident in July 2006, when Petrucci had to pay fines for hoarding more than 40 dogs and cats in Montgomery County, Pa.

In regard to her most recent arrest, Petrucci was arraigned before District Justice Michael Leonardziak on Friday, for the charges of false imprisonment and recklessly endangering another person. She was released Monday after posting a $100,000 bond.

"I'm really not happy about it," Scheaffer's daughter said of Petrucci's release from jail. "She's out [and] she should never have got out."

Authorities have yet to comment on Petrucci's motive for allegedly holding Harold Scheaffer captive. His daughter thinks Petrucci was motivated by greed.

"She's a criminal and a thief," she said. "She emptied his bank account and took pretty much everything that he owned. We don't yet know if she was cashing his social security checks or not. It's still being investigated."

Scheaffer's daughter added, "I think she has a mental illness of some sort and was keeping him like she was keeping cats."

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