Veteran, 76, Gets Relief from Home Full of Bedbugs

July 1, 2015 | Ariana Figueroa

McCall Service performs a complimentary heat treatment for a veteran not only as a good deed but also as a training exercise for its team.

Richard Magee was ready to burn his house.

From the outside, the beige home looks charming. It sits on top of a hill in Levy County, tucked between tall, green trees. The only sound is the occasional car that drives down the dirt road. But for the past year, the inside of his home has crawled and oozed with bedbugs.

“The house is infested with bedbugs, and I can’t live like this,” he said. “This has been a nightmare.”

The 76-year-old Vietnam veteran fought back by spraying rubbing alcohol on the bugs that has claimed his bedroom, but it didn’t work. It killed them, but not the eggs, so more just appeared. He reached out to McCall Service, a pest control company, to inspect his home.

“This is the most severe case of bedbugs I’ve ever seen,” said Cory Goeltzenleuchter, manager of McCall Gainesville office.

Goeltzenleuchter told the president and CEO of McCall, Bryan Cooksey, a West Point alumni, and CFO David Cooksey, a Gulf War veteran, about Magee’s living conditions and they offered to battle the bedbugs with a free heat remediation treatment and use the treatment as a training exercise.

“It’s so much more than I expected,” Magee said as he used two canes to hold himself up.

The treatment includes heating the home to 120 degrees and keeping it that hot for four hours to kill all the bedbugs and their eggs, Goeltzenleuchter said. The process takes eight to 10 hours and normally would cost around $1,400.

On Wednesday morning, Magee’s dirt driveway was packed with white trucks, fans and about a dozen pest control workers. Several heating units were placed around the house with 48 monitors to check when temperatures reached 120 degrees, Goeltzenleuchter said.

Around noon, workers dressed in blue long-sleeve shirts, black pants and gloves went into the house, which was already registering about 136 degrees, to periodically move furniture and flip mattresses.

Ten minutes later, the workers emerged with sweat pouring down their faces and shirts sticking to their backs. A Gatorade or water bottle quickly found its way into their hands. The workers can only handle so much time in the man-made oven, but going into the home is necessary to ensure that every area gets treated.

“Every crack and crevice of that house has bedbugs,” Goeltzenleuchter said.

Once the treatment is done, the company will vacuum up the dead bedbugs and double-check the home to make sure there are no bedbugs hiding.

Magee just wants to be able to sleep without being woken up by a bite. He wants to let his parrot, Sam, roam his house again. The green and yellow parrot has been with Magee since 1999.

“He’s my buddy,” he said.

Magee said he was grateful for McCall.

“They didn’t just get rid of my bedbugs,” he said. “They saved my life.”