Wayne Sperling and Lorinda Bailey Photo courtesy 7News
Hide Caption

Four boys found in filthy home spoke in grunts, were malnourished, police say

Parents charged with child abuse

a a a a
Share this story

DENVER -- Four children found living in a Denver home full of flies and cat feces were severely malnourished and could only communicate with each other in grunts, according to an arrest affidavit released Monday.

The boys' parents, Wayne Sperling, 66, and Lorinda Bailey, 35, are charged with multiple counts of child abuse.

The investigation began when Bailey took her 2-year-old son to St. Joseph's Children's Hospital to be treated for a cut on his forehead on Sept. 29.

The child was non-verbal, unwashed, and smelled like cigarette smoke, according to the emergency room doctor.

Bailey told the doctor the cut occurred after a fall. The doctor said that explanation was possible, but said additional bruising behind the child's right ear seemed consistent with pinching.

Denver Police Officer N. Rocco-McKeel was called to the hospital to investigate and spoke to the doctor and Denver Human Services case worker Jill Perry.

The case worker informed the officer that there were three other boys, aged 4, 5 and 6, living in the family's home on 18th Avenue in Denver. Perry requested to have Officer Rocco-McKeel accompany her on a welfare check, according to the affidavit.

When they arrived at the apartment, Rocco-McKeel reported a strong odor of a decomposing animal coming from inside. The officer said the "smell became unbearable" as they entered the apartment. The officer could not locate the source of the smell but said it seemed to be coming from a back room that was so full of flies "they were covering every surface."

The officer also reported seeing five cats running around and said there was feces on the floor throughout the apartment.

The children could only communicate with each other using "infant-like noises," according to Rocco-McKeel.

The officer said the children all appeared to be about the same size and he could not determine any age or developmental difference between the three oldest children. Two of the children were wearing nothing but diapers.

The boys' mother told investigators she had been living alone in a separate unit of the building for the past two months, but saw the children almost every day.

Bailey denied that her children have any developmental delays and stated that they speak to her with no problems.

Bailey also stated that she did not think the apartment was unsafe or dirty.

The boys' father told investigators that he is their primary caregiver. Sperling stated that he was unemployed and stayed home with the children. None of the children were at school or in any daycare, and Sperling explained that he was "applying to home school" the 6-year-old child.

The children "have their own language" but are able to speak to him and their mother, Sperling told police.

Sperling said the feces on the floor "looks like human but it's the cats," according to the affidavit.

Sperling said he mops the floor frequently but with four boys it is hard to keep clean.

The children were placed in protective custody and all four underwent general exams at the hospital on Sept. 29. They were found to be non-verbal, malnourished, and not toilet trained.

On Sept. 30, investigators returned to the home and noted that recent attempts had been made to clean the apartment, but the smell of cat urine and feces "was still overwhelming."

There was 1-2 inches of cat feces under the bunk bed where the children slept and the floor was soaked with cat urine, according to the affidavit.  The floors were covered with dead flies, indicating some type of bug spray had recently been used.

Sperling said the flies fill the back room every summer because the cats won't use the litter box.

There was a single mattress and a bunk bed set in the room, but neither had sheets or pillows.

The affidavit notes that both parents had pleaded guilty to misdemeanor child abuse in June 2009.

Sperling and Bailey were each charged with four counts of felony child abuse. They remain jailed under $5,000 bonds.

Both are due in court Tuesday to hear the charges against them.

Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Print this article

Comments

Hmm... It looks like you’re not a WCPO Insider. or Subscribe now to contribute!

More National News
Boston kid wants to win Boston Marathon for city
Boston kid wants to win Boston Marathon for city

Shalane Flanagan grew up in nearby Marblehead with a reverence for the Boston Marathon and dreamed, like many locals and foreign…

VIDEO: Obama calls Easter time for hope, renewal
VIDEO: Obama calls Easter time for hope, renewal

President Barack Obama is encouraging Americans to draw strength and inspiration from the Easter and Passover holidays.

Woman finds body while hunting for Easter eggs
Woman finds body while hunting for Easter eggs

A Tennessee woman says she made a grisly discovery while hunting for Easter eggs in her back yard with her 3-year-old son: a dead body.

REPLAY: SpaceX rocket blasts off from Cape
REPLAY: SpaceX rocket blasts off from Cape

A SpaceX commercial rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral on schedule Friday afternoon and is heading to the International Space Station.

U.S. power grid vulnerable, experts warn
U.S. power grid vulnerable, experts warn

“The destruction of more than three transmission substations would cause long-term blackouts in many areas of the country,”…

Local runners make emotional return to Boston
Local runners make emotional return to Boston

Several local runners are heading to Boston this weekend to make a statement to the world.

Obama: Anti-Semitic Ukrainian leaflet sickening
Obama: Anti-Semitic Ukrainian leaflet sickening

President Barack Obama's national security adviser says anti-Semitic leaflets distributed in Ukraine were "utterly sickening"…

Ohio woman finds bird leg in Dole spinach bag
Ohio woman finds bird leg in Dole spinach bag

An Ohio woman, who eats a salad nearly every day and makes spinach smoothies, has lost her appetite for her favorite vegetable after making a…

Boston Marathon runner: 'Let's show these jerks'
Boston Marathon runner: 'Let's show these jerks'

After running more than 25 miles, exhaustion was setting in for Roswitha Goossens-Winter, but she was determined to complete the 2013 Boston…

Mich. judge to woman: 'I hope you die in prison'
Mich. judge to woman: 'I hope you die in prison'

If a judge could throw the book at a woman, he managed to do so Wednesday.