Trenton judge clears courtroom after man's clothes drip bedbugs
Monday, April 18, 2011
TRENTON - A visitor infested with bedbugs forced the evacuation
of a city courtroom Monday and prompted officials to seal off the
room and call in an exterminator.
"The guy literally had bedbugs falling off of his clothing," a
court employee said after the victim was escorted out of Trenton's
combination police and courts building.
"He sat in court for more than three hours, and a lot of people
wanted court to shut down. Many others wanted the guy removed, but
nothing happened. And they finally got the guy to leave at about 12
noon. But by then, there's no way of knowing how many bedbugs fell
off of him. It's scary," the court worker said.
Shut down after the bug man was removed was Court Room B, the
entrance to which is only steps from where people line up to pay
parking tickets and the like.
Top city health officer Joseph Rubino said an inspection of the
courtroom after the victim's removal "found no visible signs of
bedbugs," but he added that with people removed, there isn't much
for a bedbug to latch onto in the empty room.
Rubino said city court officials were told to have an exterminator
check out the room to make sure it's bedbug free before holding
court in it again.
A city cop told The Trentonian that "someone came in with a vacuum
cleaner and sucked up some of the bugs" after the infested visitor
was removed. "But I don't know what's going to happen next. I know
that I don't want to be around bedbugs because they are hard to get
Courtroom employees said Health & Human Services Inspector
Mike Ingram went to the bug man's house and discovered a serious
infestation there. Rubino said Ingram gave the guy advise for
dealing with his infested bed and furniture.
Eyewitnesses said two women court visitors observed bedbugs on the
guy's clothing and alerted court officials.
"If this situation happened the way people are saying, it would be
an extraordinary event," said Jeffrey White, a research
entomologist at Lawrence-based Cooper Pest Solutions and BedBug
Central. "We would have likely done the same thing regarding
vacuuming and then followed up with a steam treatment of the
"And then it's best to continue to monitor the area
where this guys was sitting. Applying pesticides would be tricky
because people would be back in that area the next day.
Unfortunately, with a major outbreak of bedbugs occurring, we're
going to see more and more stories like this. It's going to get
worse before it gets better."
The city's Hedgepeth/Williams Elementary School underwent an
extermination in February after officials discovered a lone bedbug
on the school's premises.
White confirmed that finding bedbugs in schools is no shocking
event because of bugs' transportation via book bags and
The blood-sucking insects are a quarter-inch in size and remain
flat until they gorge on human blood, usually a nocturnal
White said bedbug education will play a significant role in what
he expects to be a major bedbug outbreak season.
"There's a lot of misinformation out there. It's going to be
important that people know about prevention and also what steps to
take if they have a bedbug problem," White remarked.
Acting City Inspections Director Cleveland Thompson said he had
heard about the courtroom drama.
"But we didn't respond. It wasn't our (case) but if this gentleman
had a bedbug problem at his residence, we would instruct him to
hire a certified exterminator," Thompson said.
The bedbug incident came three day before Trenton's city council
will try Thursday attempts an adoption of new guidelines regarding
tenants, landlords, and pest extermination.