(BRONX, N.Y.) — Both parents have been charged after a 5-year-old boy was found on Friday living in a filthy apartment in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx.
The young boy was discovered alone in the apartment by a Fed-Ex delivery man and later removed from the apartment by local authorities.
The child told police that his parents had not been home since Thursday night, according to ABC affiliate WABC in New York. He is the youngest of four children, but was the only one found in the apartment when authorities arrived.
The boy’s mother told authorities that she allowed the 5-year-old to stay home alone because he was not feeling well, and that her other children, 13-year-old and 12-year-old girls and a 15-year-old boy were in school. The woman said she believed the young child was old enough to take care of himself.
The apartment was infested with rats, roaches, maggots and deceased rodents and authorities reported that the walls and floors in every room were covered with human fecal matter, blood and other DNA material, authorities said. One of the children was taken to the hospital with insects crawling all over his body and another child was diagnosed with scabies, a skin condition caused by mites burrowed underneath the skin, they said.
The children’s parents, 48-year-old Charlotte Lewis and 59-year old Wilfred Lewis, were arrested and arraigned on Saturday evening on charges of child endangerment. Charlotte Lewis, a nurse at Montefiore Hospital was charged with four counts of failure to exercise control of a minor, while Wilfred Lewis, an MTA employee, was charged with endangering a child and four counts of failure to exercise control of a minor.
“It’s unbelievable knowing you’re in a building that they’ve got an apartment in those conditions,” said the Lewis’ neighbor, William Villafane. “I live on the third floor, we pass by it and we never knew that it was like that.”
Prosecutors have called the incident a case of “wanton abuse and neglect,” adding that the parents “were not living in poverty, but were raising their children in abject squalor.”
The four children have been placed into the custody of the New York City Administration for Children’s Services.
The Lewis’ bail has been set at $15,000 and they are expected to appear again in court next month.
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