NEW YORK (WCBS) It looked like a scene straight out of a scary movie on Long Island as authorities uncovered a mass burial site for animals in a woman's backyard.
Now, the Selden, N.Y. mother is charged with animal cruelty, and that appears to be just the beginning.
Sharon McDonough, 43, started Sunday cuffed and collared following a nightmare discovery at her home.
"It gives me the shivers," one neighbor said. "That's all I can say."
In an eerie scene Saturday night, investigators found a backyard burial ground, with the remains of at least 20 animals, behind McDonough's house. The remains were brought out in black plastic bags.
"This is one of the worst cases of animal abuse I have seen in the last 25 years I have been doing this," Chief Roy Gross, of the Suffolk County SPCA, said.
The gruesome revelation has left many in the neighborhood shaken.
"It looked like a real murder scene, as if they were gonna pull out dead bodies out there," neighbor Andrea Martinez said. "The smell was unbearable. They were taking bags out by the dozen. It was crazy."
It all started Thursday, when a local rescue group contacted police about conditions at the house. When authorities arrived, they knew something was amiss.
"We recovered at that time five dogs that were crammed in small cages, that appeared to be in danger, that were removed," Chief Gross said.
That kicked off an investigation that eventually led to the backyard. Now, investigators are looking into complaints about animals disappearing from the neighborhood, and allegations that McDonough tortured, killed, and buried them behind her house.
"It's really shocking, just unbelievable," said neighbor Greg Crecco.
One family says their dog and two cats have been missing, and they fear that the pets may be part of the terrible discovery.
"I'm really concerned about that – that everyone lose animals and they're just buried in the backyard," said neighbor Nicholas Dinubila.
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Complicating matters, authorities say McDonough had seven children who lived with her in the house.
So far, McDonough is only facing misdemeanor animal cruelty charges for the dogs found inside her home on Thursday.
She was released from jail Sunday night after pleading not guilty, but authorities say she could face more serious charges after investigators determine how the animals buried in the backyard died.
"It was a concentration camp for the animals," the suspect's son, Douglas McDonough, said. "My sisters and me, we got the end of it, too."
Investigators told CBS Affiliate WCBS that McDonough's eldest son was the one who tipped off the rescue group to conditions at the home.
Meanwhile, the live animals recovered from McDonough's home, including several dogs and a cat, are doing fine. They are currently up for adoption at the Suffolk County SPCA.
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