Police in Georgia charged a 21-year-old mother with cruelty to children on Friday after discovering her toddler covered in feces, hungry and locked inside her garbage-strewn home.
Forsyth County sheriff's deputies were dispatched to the Cumming home of Stephanie Davis when a concerned family member reported her concern for Davis' young son, according Sheriff Ted Paxton.
The caller said Davis contacted her around 4:30 a.m., after she was arrested by Roswell police for driving drunk and speeding. The family member said Davis assured her that someone was watching her son, police said.
When deputies arrived at Davis' home they received no response to knocks on the front door. During a cursory search of the exterior, they heard a dog barking and the cries of a child coming from an open window.
"Because of the extenuating circumstances, one of the deputies pulled the screen off of the window and entered the home," Paxton said. "The deputy then made his way to the room where he heard the child crying. What he found was a child that was trapped in his room by a closed door, equipped with a safety device on the inside doorknob, that prevented the child from opening the door."
The 2-year-old boy, who was dressed only in a filthy white T-shift, had removed his diaper, which was "overflowing with feces." The child had feces on his "hands, feet and legs," police said.
The child's room had only a mattress and box springs on the floor. The rest of the home was allegedly in disarray, with overflowing trash cans, dirty dishes and rotting food. Authorities said there were more than 50 bags of garbage.
Two dogs were found inside the residence. One was locked inside a cage and the other was loose in the home. The animals were removed from the residence and seized by Animal Control, police said.
After the child was removed from the home, deputies observed bug bites, possibly from fleas, on the toddler's legs.
"Deputies on the scene began to clean the feces off of the child and put a clean diaper on him. Because of the disarray of the home, deputies could not tell if the clothes on the floor were clean or dirty. One deputy got clothes and food from his home and gave it to the child, while another went to a local store to get the child something to drink. Deputies said it was clear that the child was very hungry." Paxton said.
The responding deputies described the home as "filthy" and said the odor emanating from inside the residence was "a mixture of rotting food, urine and feces."
Authorities said they do not yet know how long the child had been inside the home alone.
"I think they should put her under the jail and throw away the key. She should never get that child back," neighbor Wylina Wallace told WSB-TV in Atlanta.
The child has been placed with the Department of Family and Children's Services and is in protective custody.
"I commend the deputies for their response and for their caring actions at the scene," Paxton said. "This was a situation that could have ended quite differently. Thankfully, the child was located and is now safe."
Davis is being held in lieu of $2,500 bond at the Fulton County Jail. In addition to DWI and second-degree cruelty to children, Davis faces an additional charge of reckless conduct.