Seven children living in “deplorable” conditions have been rescued from their Pennsylvania home as their parents face a slew of child endangerment charges.
Pennridge Regional Police say they discovered three girls, ages 12, 14 and 16, living in their parents’ caravan in Sellersville house that was “obviously in disrepair and disarray,” with feces in the grounds of the bedrooms and sheets that had not been washed in weeks.
Officials later found four other minors — girls ages 4, 8 and 10 and a boy age 6 — hiding in a back room of Shane and Crystal Robertson’s tiny house.
Six of those seven children were clinically malnourished, two had low kidney function and three were diagnosed with acute viral syndrome, police said. Two also had their heads shaved because their hair was so matted, and one had maggots in their locks.
None of the children had formal education and some did not even know their own date of birth.
Crystal, 37, and Shane, 47, now face seven felony child endangerment charges — one for each child.
Crystal, 37, and Shane Robertson, 47, are facing seven cases of child endangerment – one for each child
Officers first became aware of the children’s condition when they received a report last month that two minors entered an abandoned trailer next to Robertson’s home in Sellersville. The trailer is pictured here
Officers said in newly released affidavits that they were first made aware of the children’s condition when they received a report on April 23 that two minors entered an abandoned trailer next to Robertson’s home.
“On arrival, they found a 12-year-old young woman in the front garden of 655 Roseann Lane, immediately adjacent to 675 Roseann Lane,” the affidavit said.
The 12-year-old girl, who was barefoot at the time, “then started talking to officers by explaining that her parents had told them not to go to the abandoned caravan and that her parents could not be held responsible.”
She said she only broke into the abandoned caravan next door to get a blanket “to keep her rats warm because her family is running out of money.”
At the time, police said, a 14-year-old girl appeared from behind the neighboring property wearing “big work boots that were too big for her feet and wearing clothes that looked dirty.”
The responding officers then decided to ask their parents, Shane and Crystal, to show them the children’s living arrangements.
Once inside, the officers noticed a bicycle lock on the refrigerator.
“Crystal Robertson stated that they ate so much food that she had to lock the fridge because they were ‘stealing’ everything, and called the children ‘garbage pickers with legs,'” the police wrote of the encounter.
Soon, police said, Shane asked his 16-year-old daughter to come out of hiding. He claimed the teen was the last daughter he had.
But when police returned with representatives from the Bucks County Children and Youth Office around 5 p.m. that evening, they found four more children hiding in a back room.
Shane allegedly told officers he hadn’t told them about the other kids sooner because “he didn’t want to cause trouble.”
Officers said the house was “obviously in disrepair and disarray,” with feces on the grounds of the bedrooms and sheets that hadn’t been washed in weeks
Much of the house was also in need of repair, with noticeable holes in the wall
The seven children were removed from the building and placed in foster care
Inside the house, police said, they found unsanitary living conditions, with a bad smell, several insects and two dozen rats in cages, as well as feces on the floor and on a blanket.
“The room Shane and Crystal slept in had a bed in the middle of the room with several animal cages around it,” the responding officers wrote. ‘The sheets on the bed didn’t seem to have been washed for weeks/months.
“There was trash on the floor and holes in the walls.”
An adjoining bedroom was blocked by a broken washing machine, court documents say, and had no door but was littered with dirty clothes and trash strewn on the floor.
“The third bedroom had feces on the floor near the main entrance,” officers continued. “In the middle of the room was a dirty mattress with a dirty blanket on it.”
Much of the house was also in need of repair, with holes in the walls.
Police also found “two dogs, two tortoises, two rabbits, snakes, toads and a four-foot reptile known as Tegu” in the home.
“The only notable food in the house was for the animals,” police noted.
Authorities noted in an affidavit that a 12-year-old girl said she broke into the adjacent trailer to get a blanket for her rats
All seven children were sent to a hospital for examination and placed in foster care.
In the following weeks, doctors found that all but one of the children was clinically malnourished, two tested positive for COVID-19, two had low kidney function, and three had a fever and were diagnosed with acute viral syndrome.
Two of the children also required extensive dental treatment, two required corrective eye care, and two had to shave off most of their hair due to severe tangles — one even had maggots in their locks.
It was also revealed that none of the children had any formal education and they had difficulties with reading, writing and spelling.
Some did not even know their own date of birth, and four suffered from speech impediments.
“All of them showed social anxiety and revealed that they disliked being in public or around other people,” the affidavits read.
The recently unsealed affidavits describe how the children were malnourished and suffered from various ailments
A neighbor who spoke WFMZ said he had no idea how bad the children’s hygiene was until he saw a copy of the police report.
The neighbour, who has not been identified, said he saw the children “running around barefoot, wearing the same clothes every day.”
But when he received a copy of the police report, I burst into tears.
“When I got to the point where one kid’s head was covered in maggots, I just wanted to, it’s just hard to accept,” he said.
“I’m just praying for the kids, I really do,” the neighbor added. “I pray that they come into a better family situation.”
Shane and Crystal are out on bail as their children are being sent to foster care.
A preliminary hearing will take place on August 7.