Squatter pair claimed woman's house and benefits as her corpse decomposed upstairs

Todd La Duke and Nicole Scalise were found occupying the house of deceased Tiffany Kain

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The Independent US

A couple have been arrested after police in Florida found them squatting in the house of a dead woman and claiming her benefits, while her corpse decomposed upstairs.

Officers were called to visit the property after social services ordered a 'well-being check' on Holly Hill resident Tiffany Kain, who had not been in contact with the Department of Children and Families since September.

Their suspicions were aroused when they noticed a foul smelling odour coming from the property, leading them to force entry on Thursday. Upon breaking in, police found the body of 33-year-old Ms Kain in a state of advanced decomposition. They believe she may have been dead for up to two weeks.

The house was now also being occupied by Todd La Duke, 38, and Nicole Scalise, 31, and their three children, aged four, six and eleven, who were found sat in another room of the house with their youngest child.

The couple also allegedly admitted to claiming Ms Kain's disability benefits after she had died.

Holly Hill Police Chief Mark Barker said it was "perhaps the worst case of child endangerment I've seen in my 30 years in law enforcement. Disgusting".

“We are fortunate that these children have been removed, are in a safe place today and that these individuals have been brought to justice,” Mr Barker added.

Holly Hill police department described conditions inside the house as "deplorable" and said the house was littered with drug paraphernalia, dirt, animal feces and the carpets were urine soaked.

Volusia County Jail documents show La Duke and Scalise were charged with child neglect, unlawful disturbance of a body and drug possession.

Ms Kain, who suffered from spina bifida and was wheelchair bound , is believed to have died of natural causes.

Additional reporting by agencies