Locked Fridge Left 7 Kids Foraging For Food, Cops Say; parents arrested for neglect

An eastern Pennsylvania couple face child endangerment and neglect charges after a criminal investigation began when a neighbor reported seeing children pulling items out of an abandoned trailer near their homes, police said.

Pennridge Regional Police arrested the parents of the children, ages 37 and 47, on Friday, following an investigation lasting more than a month, and charged them with seven counts of endangering the well-being of children.

Police said the children, ages 4 to 16, were living in squalid conditions in a three-bedroom mobile home in Sellersville, about 38 miles north of Philadelphia.

When police responded to the home, they found the children living with their parents and nearly three dozen animals, including rats, dogs, rabbits and reptiles, the Bucks County Courier Times reported. part of the USA TODAY Network.

Nikki Thompson, Bucks County Animal Welfare Officer, said police found the animals in good condition.

The children were not, the police. said.

USA TODAY does not identify parents to protect the identity of children.

Authorities learned of the alleged neglect after responding to a theft report on April 23 and finding the couple’s daughter in the front yard of a mobile home next to where the theft was reported.

The girl would later tell the police that she only took a blanket to keep her pet rats warm because her parents had run out of money.

Rotten teeth, poor eyesight and maggot-infested hair

Police said all but one of the children showed signs of severe malnutrition and other medical issues, including rotting teeth, weak kidney function, COVID-19, acute viral syndrome, poor eyesight, ringworm, matted, maggot-infested hair and speech impediments.

None of them attended formal school, authorities said, and some did not know their date of birth and must have known how old they were.

The children said they were told it was school when their mother passed a smartphone to each child, a source with knowledge of the matter said.

On Friday, the children remained in foster care, while their parents remained free on a $10,000 bond.

“Unsanitary and serious dilapidation”

Authorities described the house as unsanitary and in very poor condition with decaying and destroyed walls and floors. There was no soap, toothpaste or other personal hygiene or cleaning products at home, according to court documents. The children seemed dirty and neglected.

The only “notable” food in the house was for the animals, and the refrigerator door was locked with a bicycle lock because their mother had told the police that the children were “stealing” food.

The family moved into the mobile home, with its white shutters with faded yellow shutters and a small porch, about 18 months ago. The home sits on a wooded lot in Green Top, a quiet mobile home community with six narrow streets.

The allegations shocked veteran child abuse experts who wondered if anyone in the community had noticed anything unusual with the family, or, more likely, if they didn’t want to get involved.

“This feels like one of those moments that leaves me speechless and scratches my head,” said Cathleen Palm, founder and director of the Center for Children’s Justice in Berks County. “Any reasonable person will say how children – not one or two, and not one baby or non-verbal or disabled child, but many and of such different ages can be so off the radar.”

Do you suspect a child is being abused or neglected? Call ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313.

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This article originally appeared on Bucks County Courier Times: Children found in filthy Pennsylvania home with locked fridge

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