Police arrest woman after finding kids living in maggot-infested filth

Updated: Apr. 19, 2017 at 1:35 PM CDT
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BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) - An Arkansas woman faces five counts of child endangerment after police say they found her "dirty and unkempt" children living in a house filled with maggot-covered filth.

Tuesday morning a neighbor of 29-year-old Charlese Whitfield called Blytheville police after hearing what sounded like children "screaming in distress" inside her home in the 300-block of Stemac.

When officers arrived, they heard the children inside the home. But the kids refused to open the door and cursed at the officers, according to the incident report.

Police then called the children's grandmother and asked her to come and try to get the children to open the door.

Just as the grandmother arrived at the scene, Whitfield pulled up and demanded to know why police were at her home.

After explaining the call they received, Whitfield had one of the children open the door to show that they were okay.

"She then immediately told the child to shut and lock the door," the report stated. But an officer managed to stop the door from closing and entered.

Once inside, police first noticed "a very foul odor."

As they looked through the home, they found "very large amounts of garbage along with flies and maggots in the living room, kitchen, and all three bedrooms."

The report stated, "the bathroom also had garbage, and the toilet was full and overflowing with feces and urine."

The hallway leading to the bedrooms was wet with approximately ¼" of standing water. According to the report, the water appeared to come from an air conditioning unit sitting on a small table beside the sofa.

The home did not have running water, but police said it did have electricity.

After looking through the home, officers spoke with the children.

"I noticed they were all wearing very dirty clothing and no shoes," one of the officers said. "I also observed them to be very dirty and unkempt."

One of the children had scarring "indicative of cuts from possible abuse" on the left arm and upper left chest, according to the report.

When asked about the wounds, the child said they came from scratching the door frame. But a younger child reportedly spoke up and said, "No, you didn't. That came from Mama."

Police then arrested Whitfield on five counts of second-degree endangering the welfare of a minor, along with two active warrants.

A Department of Human Services investigator was called to the scene. After touring the home and taking photos, the DHS agent also examined the children.

The children were released into the grandmother's care.

Blytheville police also notified the Child Abuse Hotline.

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