SANTA ROSA COUNTY, Fla. – A Florida mother accused of keeping her children in a home infested with roaches and littered in cat feces was arrested after her daughter brought a backpack filled with "hundreds of bugs" to school, according to the Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office.
The investigation began April 18 when a second-grade teacher noticed one of her students had been wearing the same clothes all week and smelled of feces and urine, the report said. The girl said she didn't know the last time she had a bath.
School officials gave the girl clean clothes because hers were caked in filth, according to the report. The teacher also told a school resource officer that "hundreds of bugs" once crawled out of the girl's backpack, at which time the student admitted that her home had a roach infestation, authorities said.
The teacher told deputies that the student has suffered hygiene problems for the duration of the academic year. The student also complained of being tired because she had to sleep in her mother's bed since there was days-old vomit in hers, seemed depressed and would have meltdowns, according to the report.
The girl's mother, Jessica Stevenson, met with the teacher earlier in the year and berated her because she suspected her of calling the Department of Children and Families, officials said. She never followed through with getting counseling for her children as the school suggested.
Deputies said they went to Stevenson's home April 18 and found roaches on nearly every surface, extreme filth, bleach and chemicals within the reach of the children, piles of cat feces, dirty dishes with rotten food in the sink, a microwave hanging out the window by its cord, glass from broken windows on the floor and bags of trash.
There was no food in the fridge or cabinets except for spoiled milk and eggs, a stick of butter and some sugar, the report said.
The five children had little or no clothes in their rooms and no linens on their bed, but Stevenson's room was clean with minimal roaches, a closet full of clothing, a flat-screen TV and some snacks, according to authorities.
Stevenson was arrested May 3 on five counts of child neglect without great bodily harm. She has since bonded out of jail.
She told WEAR that she's not allowed to have contact with her children, ages 5, 7,11, 12, and 14. She also told the TV station that she was unfairly targeted by the school and Sheriff's Office.