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Parents Charged After Children Found Non-Verbal, Malnourished And Surrounded By Feces

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Denver Police Dept.
Denver Police Dept.

A Denver couple is facing multiple felony child abuse counts after authorities found their four children malnourished, surrounded by feces and only able to communicate via grunting sounds.

Parents Wayne Sperling, 66, and Lorinda Bailey, 35, were each charged with four counts of felony child abuse -- one count for each child found -- by Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey.

Prosectors allege that the children -- ages 2, 4, 5 and 6 years old, all boys -- were non-verbal and living in an extremely unsanitary home that had an "overwhelming" smell of cat urine and feces. They were so malnourished that the police on the scene couldn't developmentally distinguish between any of the boys, despite the range in age from 2 to 6 years.

All of the boys were described as developmentally-delayed and none of them were toilet trained.

The police began their investigation of Sperling and Bailey when Bailey took her 2-year-old to St. Joseph's Children's Hospital near the end of September to be treated for a cut on his forehead.

According to 7News, the emergency room doctor told authorities that the child was non-verbal, unwashed and smelled like cigarette smoke.

Denver Police, along with a Denver Human Services case worker, went to Sperling and Bailey's apartment to check on the other three children. They found a scene right out of a horror movie.

A "strong odor" of what an officer described as "decomposing animal" emanating from the children's room; feces throughout the home along with "one to two inches of cat feces, both old and new, under the children's bunk bed"; a wood floor soaked through with cat urine; floors of the apartment littered with "dead flies" and living flies that covered every surface.

9News reports that Sperling told investigators that he was the primary caregiver and was "applying to home school" the 6-year-old boy. Sperling also insisted that the children were able to communicate with him and Bailey, but had "their own language" where they "grunt at each other."

Sperling also explained away the amount of flies, saying that the back room fills with flies every summer because their cats refuse to use the litterbox, 7News reported.

Sperling and Bailey both remain in custody, each under a $5,000 bond. They are scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 8 to be formally advised of the charges against them.

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