The mother of 14-year-old Matthew Degner, a mentally disabled boy who died in his Berwyn home amid more than 200 animals, was indicted on 11 felony counts by the Cook County grand jury Friday.
Lydia Price, 47, faces nine counts of abuse and neglect by a caregiver and two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, according to the Chicago Tribune. She is being charged in the death of her son and for endangering the lives of her other three children and the animals in her care.
Police said the conditions in the home where Degner died were horrific, and are believed to have contributed to the bronchopneumonia that caused his death.
“Our animal control officers who have been in some pretty horrific and disgusting environments said this home was easily the worst they’ve been in," sheriff’s spokesman Steve Patterson told the Chicago Sun-Times. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services took custody of Degner's siblings, ages 12, 17 and 18, all of whom reportedly showed flu-like symptoms.
Price's family defended her, and the home's conditions, prior to the indictment. Her mother Barbara called the charges "assaults and falsifications" in late September.
The grand jury indicted Price Friday on 11 felony counts, including one count each of criminal neglect of a disabled child resulting in death, criminal neglect of a disabled child not resulting in death, animal cruelty and companion animal hoarding, according to My Suburban Life. She also faces one count of endangering the life of a child for each of her four surviving children.
Price was initially charged with 2 felony counts of neglect and six misdemeanors, My Suburban Life reports.
Price's new attorney, Steven A. Greenberg, portrayed the case as overblown, saying his client is not a bad parent, "just overwhelmed."
“Frankly, if we prosecute someone every time their kid gets sick, we're going to have a lot of cases,” he told My Suburban life.
Price remains free on bond after relatives posted 10 percent of the $100,000 bail set by Cook County Judge Pamela Leeming, the Tribune reports. Her arraignment is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Halloween, Oct. 31.
Meanwhile, the City of Berwyn is seeking to demolish Price's Lombard Ave. home.
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