Couple arrested after kids removed from bug-filled home with no power

Parents deny they neglected children

INDIANAPOLIS - Two Indianapolis parents were booked into jail on felony neglect charges, after police said their children were found in a bug infested house that had no water or electricity.

Officers said cockroaches were swarming the home so badly that officers could not enter the home in the 900 block of North Parker Avenue, near East 10th Street and Rural Street.

An anonymous caller told police that a young teenager was caring for two babies at the home, with no lights or running water.

An officer wrote in his police report that he arrived to find the front door open on a home that appeared to be abandoned.

The officer said a 1-year-old boy was inside the home, and a 9-month-old girl was lying on a couch, which was the only furniture in the home.

As officers started taking pictures, a police supervisor ordered all officers to stay out of the home due to the extreme infestation.

The parents then arrived at the home with two other children, a 13-year-old boy and a 3-year-old boy, and when an ambulance arrived, medics said all of the children should be taken to the hospital for treatment.

Parents Gwendolyn Crockett, 34, and Joseph Patton, 33, were booked on felony charges of neglect of dependents.

"They were not living here with no electricity and water," Crockett told the Call 6 Investigators.

She said she was in the process of moving her family out of the home, and had only left her youngest kids in the home while she hauled a load of belongings to a storage unit.

When asked about the police reporting that her kids were covered with bug bites, with the two babies having soiled diapers, she replied, "That’s a lie. My kids had diapers. They were clean when I left here to go put my stuff in storage. They didn't have soiled diapers. They didn't have bug bites all over them."

She said the kids had poison ivy and other skin conditions.

As for the utilities, Crockett said the water and electricity had only been cut off for two hours when police arrived.  

"Why would I have my kids up in this, and if I would have known there was no electricity of water, I wouldn't have my kids here," she said.

Neighbors told the Call 6 Investigators they had been worried about the four children living in that home for months. One neighbor said she was aware that bugs were a problem in the home.

Police reported that medics lifted a child safety seat into the back of an ambulance to check the children out, but quickly flung the back doors of the ambulance open when cockroaches swarmed out of the safety seat.

Crockett said police were called by an in-law who doesn't like her, and she insisted again that the children weren't really living in poor conditions.

"My kids are fine. I take care of my kids," she said.  "They're not abused and not malnutrition (sic), they’re not neglected, they’ve got clothes, they’ve got food, they have a roof over their head," she said.

While maintaining that her kids don't actually live at the home, Crockett told the Call 6 Investigators that Child Protective Services had examined all of her kids at that same home the day before her arrest and the week before her arrest.  In each visit, she said caseworkers found no problems with her children.

"There was not bugs everywhere," she said.

Patton, the father, said he and the mother had no idea that the utilities had been turned off.  

"Our kids were dressed and clean," he said.  

He also pointed out that CPS had been at the same home earlier and determined his kids were fine.  When asked about the graphic details in the police report, he answered, "That’s a lie."

Patton said he is due in court again, along with Crockett, later in the week to answer the felony neglect charges against them.

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