LAKE STEVENS, Wash. (AP) — A man and a woman accused of abandoning their three young children without food in a cold, filthy house have been arrested, police said Tuesday.
It wasn't known how long the children had been unattended when police removed them Saturday, but the parents had to be tracked down by investigators, Lake Stevens police Cmdr. Dennis Taylor said Tuesday. The adults, both 33, were booked into jail for investigation of felony criminal mistreatment and abandonment of a dependent person.
The children include a 7-year-old girl, a 3-year-old boy and an 11-month-old boy. They were found surrounded by feces and garbage, Taylor said.
The children were taken to a hospital, where the baby was found to have a core temperature of 94 degrees and was treated for hypothermia and dehydration. All are now in the custody of the state Child Protective Services agency.
The parents were expected to make court appearances Wednesday, the Daily Herald of Everett (http://is.gd/CdBYxb) reported.
A woman who had gone to the home because one of the parents owed her money alerted police, court documents said. Officers found so much human and animal waste inside that they wore respirators and plastic boots as they investigated.
Lake Stevens is about 30 miles north of Seattle.
Detective Dean Thomas told the Herald that officers persuaded the little girl to let them in.
While a space heater reportedly had been left on in one room, court documents say holes had been knocked in exterior walls, with daylight showing through in some areas. "There was no heat. It was 40-something degrees in the house," Taylor said.
Detectives served a search warrant Tuesday to collect evidence. The house also was ordered unsafe for habitation, said Chad Osterholtz, the city code inspector. The house had running water and power, but there also was extensive water damage and mold. Smoke alarms were disabled, wires were exposed and light fixtures uncovered.
Thomas said the family has a history of contact with Child Protective Services. The little girl's school recently called social workers after she missed a week of school, he said.
The school previously talked to the state agency about concerns regarding her health and appearance, Taylor said.
The arrested man was sentenced to prison in 2002 after shooting and wounding a man, the Herald reported. The woman graduated from drug court in 2009 and was later convicted of stealing a Ford Explorer, the newspaper said.
Information from: The Daily Herald, http://www.heraldnet.com