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Parents charged after 7 kids found in home with rats, lock on fridge

The home was littered with garbage and feces. All seven children were found in poor health.
Parents charged after 7 kids found in home with rats, lock on fridge
Posted at 11:49 AM, May 28, 2023

Two Pennsylvania parents have been charged after their seven children were found living in filthy and unsafe conditions. 

The father, 47-year-old Shane Robertson and mother, 37-year-old Crystal Robertson each face seven felony counts of endangering the welfare of children. 

Pennridge Regional Police were dispatched to a property in West Rockhill Township on April 23, after reports that children were sifting through what was believed to be an abandoned trailer and taking items from it, according to a police affidavit filed on May 19. 

There, a 12-year-old female told police that she had been looking for a blanket for her rats. She explained to police that her family did not have much money. 

Another juvenile female, a 14-year-old, emerged in boots that were too large for her feet and was wearing dirty clothing. Police called the children's parents and expressed concern for the health of the kids. Police awaited Shane and Crystal's arrival home and asked to see the family's living quarters, to which the parents obliged.

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When officers entered the trailer, they found a refrigerator chained shut with a bicycle lock. Crystal stated that they were going through so much food that she had to lock the fridge. She said her children were "stealing" everything and referred to them as "garbage disposals with legs."

When Shane retrieved the key from Crystal's purse in the car, very little food was found inside the fridge. 

Police said the interior of the trailer was in "obvious disrepair and disarray," according to the affidavit. 

When asked, Shane told officers he had one other daughter, whom police said appeared unkempt. Officers left to file a Childline Report in accordance with Pennsylvania Act 31. When they returned, they discovered more children had been hidden in a rear bedroom of the home. 

Shane said he lied about the number of children because he did not want to get in trouble. 

Because of their appearance, all seven children, ranging in age from 4 to 16, were transported to Grand View Hospital for evaluation. 

The hospital determined that each of the seven children were malnourished, and that two of them tested positive for COVID-19. Two had low kidney function, and three had fevers and were diagnosed with acute viral syndrome. 

Bucks County Children and Youth took custody of all seven kids. The parents were informed that their children were being placed in foster care, police said in the affidavit. 

Photographs were taken of the entire living quarters. Shane and Crystal slept in a bed surrounded by animal cages, with sheets that hadn't appeared to have been washed in several weeks or months, police said. Garbage littered the place, walls had holes, and feces was found on the floor and a blanket. 

About two dozen rats were found in two different cages. Two dogs, two turtles, two rabbits, snakes, toads, and a 4-foot reptile were also discovered inside. 

No hygiene products such as soap and toothpaste were located in the home. The trailer had an odor and bugs. 

Weeks later, it was learned that none of the seven children had any sort of formal education. Upon further evaluation, additional conditions were also discovered among the kids, including social anxiety, dental issues, eyesight problems — and one had maggots in her hair.

Police said both parents were free Friday after posting 10% of $100,000 bail, according to CNN.


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