A woman has been arrested on five counts of endangering the welfare of a child after the authorities discovered the filthy conditions they were living in.
The five young children were living in a home full of excrement, chickens, rotting food, clutter, fleas, and more.
The authorities were asked to contact two children’s parents after they were sent home from school because they had lice, but not come back to school after a week.
When the deputy arrived at the home on May 16, he saw clutter, children’s toys, and trash outside the double-wide manufactured home in the 15000 block of E. 200th St.
When the deputy walked up to the front door around 1:21 p.m., he could smell feces and urine. There were also some chickens in a water trough on the front porch.
The deputy then realized the front door was fully open and saw a 2-year-old, who was naked from the waist down, walking through piles of trash in the living room. The child nodded when asked if a parent was home and went to go fetch them.
A girl, who was also partially clothed, then came down the hall and also told the deputy an adult was home.
She went to go get them and, while the deputy waited, he noticed an animal crate in the living room and could hear chickens. He also saw trash and rotting food all over the living room and kitchen.
After this, a woman came from the bedroom and identified herself as Tiffany M. Burton, 32, and said she had just woken up.
The officer explained why he was there and she said they were supposed to have gone to school that day, but that she overslept and did not take them.
The deputy then told her that he house was not safe or sanitary enough for the children to be living in.
She said that she knew this and that she did want to leave the house. She then said her husband was not helping her keep it clean and that she was mad at him for leaving the house in its current state.
When asked, she said he had left the previous day, so the deputy then explained that there was no way the house got into that state overnight.
A total of five children were in the house, ranging in age from 2 years old to 12 years old. They all had bruises on their arms and legs. Most of them had red marks that could be consistent with bug bites.
Burton agreed to walk the deputy through the house and he noticed that there was: Feces on the floor, “trash stacked on almost every horizontal surface,” fleas on the furniture and carpeting, rotten food, an open container of bleach on the floor, no working toilets, and no beds free of clutter.
He said the children were walking barefoot on the “moldy and rotten” floor and that there were seven chickens living in a bin in the living room. There was also an improvised coop in a child’s room that smelled strongly of feces.
The deputy said that part of the flooring was so rotten that it stuck to his boot and ripped off the floor, and that he found fleas and ticks on him after leaving residence.
There were two dogs in the house, as well as a pig. Burton said that one of the dogs did have cancer, as well as a flea and tick infestation.
The deputy made sure that the children were out of the house and then told Burton that the children could not go back inside.
The deputy ultimately received a call from the Cass County Children’s Division that said there was an open investigation on the children at that location.
By 2:22 p.m., a sergeant arrived and found resources to move the children. The deputy then took all five of them into protective custody.
By 3:04 p.m., a second deputy had arrived with a van to pick up the children. They told him that they had not eaten in two to three days, and he said he would take them to McDonald’s before dropping them off at the children’s division.
About 30 minutes later, the first deputy took Burton into custody, locked the house, and took her to jail.
The mother told KCTV5 News that she was remorseful. She said that he was depressed, overwhelmed, and had view resources. However, she said she loves her children dearly.
The visit from the deputy happened eight days ago. When KCTV5 visited the residence on Thursday, it was clear she had been cleaning. The beds were cleared and no longer covered with clutter. The smell that was described was no longer present.
A children’s services worker told the deputy she had been there earlier and created a “safe plan” for most of the children to sleep in the master bedroom because it was cleaner than the rest of the house and less dangerous.”
The children's division released the following statement to KCTV5 News: "Please be aware that the Children’s Division does not have the authority under state law to take a child into custody. The final decision to remove a child from the parent’s custody can only be made by a Juvenile Court judge. If there is concern a child may be in imminent danger, a law enforcement officer, a physician, and a juvenile officer have the authority to place a child in temporary protective custody."When a deputy was at the house on Thursday it was to issue a summons to appear in court at her first hearing. The judge denied a warrant for Burton's arrest.
Her husband was placed on probation last month for misdemeanor domestic assault and was not home when the visit was made last week.
A neighbor said he hadn’t been inside, but that the kids always seemed happy as can be.
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