FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – Children who were caked in dirt and wearing soiled diapers were removed from a filthy home in Bunnell on Thursday and their parents were arrested, according to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies said neighbors who heard the children screaming called 911 around 1 a.m. When deputies arrived, they heard a child screaming, “Mommy, mommy,” while banging a juice cup against the wall to ask for something to drink, records show.
Body camera video from the encounter shows mounds of trash, miscellaneous objects and old toys splayed outside the home.
Deputies said inside the home was much worse and they immediately noticed a foul smell when Christina Coe opened the door with her three children, ages 2, 1 and 7 days old, nearby.
All four bedrooms were covered in trash and cockroaches could be seen crawling on the walls, the floors, the fridge and near a pacifier, according to the report. Records show there was also feces scattered along one of the beds.
The children were wearing soiled diapers that one deputy said were sagging and the children were caked with dirt, even though Coe claimed they had taken a bath earlier at a neighbor’s house, the report said.
She also said she would bathe the children in a plastic tub located in the master bedroom, but deputies said they found that tub was still wrapped in the original plastic and covered with dust as if it had never been used.
Coe told deputies her children scream a lot and she was “trying her best.”
“So there’s, like, 10,000 choking hazards in there that they’re locked in that room and nobody’s in there supervising them as they’re screaming for the whole neighborhood to call us?” a deputy told Coe.
Coe didn’t seem to see anything wrong with the living conditions.
“It’s safe. They’re just very, very loud and vocal,” she said in the video, adding that family members “trashed the place.”
The video showed Coe sobbing as deputies said she and Gilbert Bridewell, the father of the children, were going to be arrested.
“It’s just not fair, what’s happening to these kids,” a deputy said.
Coe said the couple has no money to pay for court costs.
“We don’t tolerate this, alright? The conditions they’re in (are) unsafe for them in general, completely unsatisfactory,” a deputy said.
The Department of Children and Families was contacted and made the decision to move all three children from the home and place them with a family member.
“I am so glad that we were able to get these kids out of this house before someone was injured or became seriously ill as a result of the conditions inside the home,” Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly said. “Between the trash, bugs, and the human excrement found inside the home, this situation could have had a tragic ending. Hopefully, DCF and other agencies will help these parents and children get the help they need. It is unfortunate these conditions and the parent’s lack of actions deteriorated to a criminal case.”
Coe and Bridewell are each facing three counts of felony child neglect without great bodily harm.