A Florida mother was arrested for child neglect last week after investigators reportedly found cockroaches, soiled mattresses and rancid food in her home.
The Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office inquiry came after staff at her second-grade daughter’s school reported their concerns that the girl consistently wore the same dirty clothes every day, wasn’t taking regular baths and “hundreds of bugs crawled out” her backpack in the school’s lunchroom, according to reports.
“The roaches were on nearly every surface in the home,” an official reportedly said, including the children’s beds, in the kitchen and inside the refrigerator.
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The sheriff’s office opened the investigation in mid-April. Authorities said the girl’s clothes had “caked on fecal matter and urine soaked in,” Pensacola’s WEAR-TV reported.
Three children from the home, between ages 5 and 14, attend Baghdad Elementary in the Florida panhandle, the station reported.
The mother, identified as Jessica Stevenson, 33, has been charged with five felony counts of child abuse, according to WEAR. Her bond was set at $ 12,500.
Jessica Stevenson, 33, was charged with 5 counts of felony child abuse. (Santa Rosa County Jail)
In contrast to the rest of the home, Stevenson’s bedroom was relatively clean with a flat-screen TV, clean clothes in her closet and a stash of snack food, authorities said.
The second-grade girl was frequently given new clothing by the school, according to the Pensacola News-Journal, which reported that she would wear the same clothes until the school gave her a new set.
“The amount of neglect in this case is very disturbing,” Assistant State Attorney Greg Marcille said, according to WEAR.
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Stevenson told WEAR she was unfairly targeted by the school.
“It’s not easy when you’re one person and five kids,” she told the station. “I want to do better and I’m trying.”
The suspect made bond and was released Saturday, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
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