Huffpost Crime

Reports Of Starving, Non-Verbal Boys Living In Filth Allegedly Went Unchecked By Human Services

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Denver Police Dept.
Denver Police Dept.

A Denver couple are facing multiple felony child abuse counts after police found their four boys living in squalor, surrounded by feces, malnourished and only able to communicate via "their own language" of grunting sounds. Now, neighbors are saying that multiple reports about possible child abuse at the Denver apartment where the family lived went unchecked by Human Services.

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. Both appeared in court today to be advised of the charges against them. Neither entered pleas.

7News first discovered that two calls made to Denver Human Services' hotline about the four children -- one call back in early 2012 and the other made in mid-2013 -- were never investigated by the department, even though the couple pled guilty to child abuse charges in 2006, and again in 2009.

"It's very concerning that this has gone on as long as it has ... We have made several calls," David Littman, who works across from the home and has said he called DHS himself, told 7News. "The fact that the conditions were reported as so deplorable suggests that Social Services failed to follow up."

Read 7News shocking full report here.

Calls from The Huffington Post to Denver County's Department of Human Services were not immediately returned, but a spokesperson did tell The Denver Post said that the department could not discuss the case due to privacy laws.

The police began investigating the pair 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.

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.

Prosecutors 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.

They also discovered 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.

Sperling and Bailey were jailed and held on a $5,000 bond, but Bailey bonded out, while Sperling still remains behind bars.

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