By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Preliminary hearing dates have been set for a man and woman arrested on child abuse charges after their two small children were found in conditions that allowed them to touch and eat human excrement.
Crystal Perry, 19, and Michael Perry, 28, both of Northfork, were arrested Wednesday after state Child Protective Service workers visited their home in the Ashland area. Two children, ages 1 and 2, were removed from their custody. Both parents were later arraigned, and bond was set at $100,000 apiece.
Preliminary hearing dates have been scheduled. Michael Perry is scheduled to appear Aug. 28 before Magistrate Daniel Mitchell. Crystal Perry’s hearing was set for Aug. 30 before Magistrate Mitchell.
Both Crystal and Michael Perry are being held at the Southwestern Regional Jail in Holden.
Two little McDowell County children were removed from the small, poorly furnished room they called home after they were found living in filthy conditions that allowed them to handle and eat human excrement.
The McDowell County Sheriff’s Department was contacted after Child Protective Services workers from the state Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) office in Welch visited a home in the Ashland area near Northfork, Detective R.L. Blevins said Thursday morning in his arrest report.
Crystal Sidney Perry, 19, and Michael Paul Perry, 28, both of Northfork, were arrested and later arraigned before Magistrate Daniel Mitchell. Their bonds were set at $100,000 each, and both were remanded to the McDowell County Holding Unit until they could be transported to the Southwestern Regional Jail in Logan County.
The protective service workers were trying to take the children from the house and felt threatened, Blevins said.
When Blevins arrived on the scene Wednesday, the CPS workers told him the threatening situation was under control, and described the children’s condition. The children were “filthy,” and Blevins said he witnessed this fact himself.
“The undersigned (Blevins) was advised that the room in which the children were being held had human excrement on the floor and that the children had been eating excrement,” the detective stated in his report.
Blevins stated that he contacted Prosecuting Attorney Ed Kornish and described the situation to him. Kornish instructed him to charge the couple with child abuse with the substantial risk of injury. This is a felony charge.
Child abuse with substantial risk of injury carries a penalty of not less than one year, and no more than five years imprisonment. Under the discretion of the court, the penalty could also be one year in a county regional jail.
Sgt. James E. Muncy Jr. of the sheriff’s department said Child Protective Services investigated after they received a tip about the children’s living conditions.
In Ashland, one resident who works at a small restaurant near the home said she saw the parents push their two children in a stroller when they walked through the community.
“They walked the roads with their babies all the time,” said Lillian Rose, 43, of Ashland, who sometimes gave popsicles to the children. “They seemed like good parents. They seemed attentive, from what you could see from the road, and the babies were always clean.”
Rose added the little boy had “the prettiest blond ringlets on his head. You could have thought he was a girl.”
“They seemed like very good parents, but there are things behind closed doors, I guess,” she said.
Residents of the house said they were trying to clean the room where the couple and their children lived. One woman who lived there, Katie Shultz, 24, said CPS workers have been to the house approximately four times to see the children. The workers had received anonymous calls, she stated.
“They were always dirty,” Shultz said of the children, adding the room where the family lived “smelled like pee.”
“It wasn’t sanitary for the kids, and I believe they belong in a better home,” she said. Shultz described how Michael Perry would leave the house to go to work and Crystal Perry stayed home with the children.
“The mom would stay home, but she wouldn’t take care of the kids. They would cry all the time and she wouldn’t feed them or nothing,” Shultz said. She led the way upstairs to the small room the couple rented.
Mattresses served as beds and the floor was dirty; the entire room had a musty odor. In one corner, a bowl of ravioli was on the floor; it was difficult to tell how long it had been there. What looked like a playpen was full of toys.
Crystal Perry’s father, 42-year-old Scott Michels of Ashland, said the CPS had been called about the children’s living conditions four or more times, but the call proved to be unfounded each time. The previous CPS visits occurred while the parents were at home.
The authorities were called about the children because the home’s owner had been trying to force the family to leave, Michels stated.
Michels told the Bluefield Daily Telegraph that the couple went Wednesday to Bluefield so they could pick up a child support check. While they were away, the babysitter who was watching the children in the house left them alone. The little girl removed her diaper, allowing excrement to be spread in the room. Michels said his daughter and son-in-law came home soon after the CPS workers arrived and became upset when they were told the children would be taken away.
“They don’t deserve this,” he said.
— Contact Greg Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org