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Parents charged after 7 kids found living in home with rats in cages and padlocked refrigerator, police say


By Raja Razek, CNN

(CNN) — Police in Pennsylvania arrested two parents after finding their seven children living in what authorities described as “unsanitary” and “unsafe living conditions” – which included caged rats and feces on the home’s floor.

Authorities responded to reports on April 23 of three children entering an abandoned trailer in West Rockhill Township, 40 miles north of Philadelphia, according to a police affidavit filed May 19.

When the police found the children, they spoke with the parents and returned them to their home next to the abandoned trailer.

There, the officers observed “deplorable living conditions” and a refrigerator secured with a padlock, according to authorities.

The mother, Crystal Robertson, told police she had to lock the refrigerator because the children were “‘stealing’ everything and referred to the children as ‘garbage disposals with legs,’” according to the affidavit.

Parents face felony charges, police say

When officers later returned to the home after filing a report with Bucks County Children and Youth Social Services Agency, they discovered four more children inside.

One of the rooms had approximately two dozen rats in cages, according to the affidavit. Feces was found on the floor of another area of the home.

“There was also a bad odor … and several bugs,” the affidavit read. It was noted that “two dogs, two turtles, two rabbits, snakes, toads, and a four-foot reptile” were also in the home, the affidavit read.

The children were taken into protective custody and transported to a hospital for medical treatment.

A later investigation revealed none of the seven children had attended school and lacked basic knowledge, according to authorities. They also exhibited social anxiety, police say.

Authorities said medical evaluations concluded the children were “clinically underweight and malnourished.”

“Personal hygiene of the children was also found to be concerning, resulting in two of the children having to shave their hair due to severe matting,” according to a news release from the Pennridge Regional Police Department.

The father, Shane William Robertson, and the mother were charged with seven felony counts each of endangering the welfare of children, according to the release. Both posted the requisite 10% of the $10,000 bail amount, police say.

CNN has been unable to reach either parent Saturday and it is unclear whether they have legal representation.

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