WARREN TWP., Ohio (WKBN) – Warren Township parents are facing charges after police said their children were found in a house infested with lice and bed bugs.
Jerry Ponder and Crystal Madison, both 36, are each charged with child endangering. Both are out on bond Wednesday night, though they have been ordered to not have contact with their two young kids.
Their children – 3 and 5 years old – were found after police responded to 1550 Dilley Road NW on Sunday for a dispute between the landlord and tenants.
Warren Township Police Chief Don Bishop said the landlord was renting out multiple rooms in the house, including the basement.
“We’ve seen the people come and go and for a while, the house was empty. There was no electricity, then all of a sudden, people moved back in again. We didn’t know they were renting rooms out to people,” a neighbor said.
During the investigation, officers noticed the children had bites from bed bugs, Bishop said. He added that the young girl had hair missing due to lice.
According to a police report, the children had no mattresses to sleep on and everything in the home was dirty.
“A dirty home alone’s not a reason for a child to leave, but sometimes it crosses the line into neglect,” said Tim Schaffner, with Trumbull County Children Services.
Bishop said two pipes believed to be used to smoke marijuana were found in plain view.
Investigators took emergency custody of the children for their own safety. Children Services and the Health Department were called.
“I can assure you, these children are fine. They’re together with a wonderful foster family and our community team will all work together to help this family rebuild,” Schaffner said.
Chief Bishop said Ponder and Madison were arrested on warrants for unrelated charges. After an investigation, they were arrested again on Tuesday on child endangering charges.
Both appeared in Warren Municipal Court on Wednesday, where bond was set at $5,000. A preliminary hearing is set for February 6.
Bishop said the landlord hasn’t been charged yet, but an investigation is ongoing.