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Berwyn Animal Hoarders Defend Squalid Conditions That May Have Led To Teen Matthew Degner's Death (VIDEO)

First Posted: 09/21/11 06:03 PM ET Updated: 11/21/11 05:12 AM ET

The family of a Berwyn, Illinois teenager who was found dead in a squalid home filled with over 200 animals defended their animal hoarding in an interview with a Chicago television station this week.

Though Lydia Price, the 47-year-old mother who was charged with criminal abuse and neglect of a disabled person and endangerment of a child, has yet to respond to the accusations, her 77-year-old mother, Barbara told CBS 2 the days since the death of 14-year-old Matthew Degner have been "horrid."

"We've had not time for grief for Matthew with all the assaults and falsifications," Barbara said.

A sheriff's spokesman said the west suburban home where Degner was found was one of the most "horrific and disgusting environments" their animal control officers had ever been in. The house contained 212 animals including birds flying freely throughout the house, dozens of cats, dogs, rabbits, squirrels, a raccoon, two monkeys and two kinkajous -- many of the animals surrounded by feces. More than 100 cats had to be euthanized because they were ill. The children reportedly were homeschooled and mostly kept in isolation in the home, which had no functioning toilets.

Matthew, according to My Suburban Life, died of bronchopneumonia. He was mentally handicapped and unable to care for himself.

But Barbara does not see what all the fuss is about.

"I came from Minneapolis, Minnesota many years ago, from a hog farm,” Barbara told CBS 2. "I know what filth is. If we lived here all these years, how come suddenly its deadly? Shouldn't we have died long ago?"

Price was released from jail on Monday, Sept. 12, after her family posted a $10,000 bond -- ten percent of the $100,000 bail that was set last week, the Chicago Tribune reported. The state will seek a bail increase at an Oct. 7 court appearance.

All of Matthew's four siblings, aged 12 to 18, are currently under custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

The home where Price and her family lived, located on the 2800 block of Lombard Avenue, will be demolished after an investigation is completed, according to My Suburban Life.

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Filed by Joseph Erbentraut  |