Parents arrested after 18-month-old found in 'bad' living condit - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Parents arrested after 18-month-old found in 'bad' living conditions in Sparksville, Ind.

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Johnny Tucker (Source: Jackson County Detention Center) Johnny Tucker (Source: Jackson County Detention Center)
Christina Tucker (Source: Jackson County Detention Center) Christina Tucker (Source: Jackson County Detention Center)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Two parents were booked into the Jackson County Detention Center in Indiana after authorities say their 18-month-old child was found in a home with trash, roaches and feces.

According to an officer's statement, authorities were called to the home of 58-year-old Johnny Tucker and 25-year-old Christina Tucker recently, after someone reported that an 18-month-old child had been living "in horrible living conditions" in a home with "a strong smell" coming from it.

The home was on W. 2nd Street, in Sparksville.

The officer says he and another officer showed up at the home and immediately noticed cameras on the house.

"We walked up to the front door and could smell a very strong odor of what smelled like trash, and we noticed several roaches outside," the officer wrote in his report.

Police say Christina Tucker answered the door, and when she was told that the officers were there to investigate the living conditions, she allegedly replied, "Yeah, we're still cleaning and stuff."

The officers also told her that they needed to see her child because they had received reports that the child was suffering from a diaper rash. At that point, according to the officer's report, Christina Tucker began crying uncontrollably, telling the officers that they had just moved in. She also begged them not to take her baby, according to the report. The officers then entered the house.

According to the report, the stench was so bad, "it was hard to breathe," and trash and dishes were stacked up. Police say Johnny Tucker was lying on a mattress on the floor. Both Johnny and Christina Tucker admitted to being parents of the boy -- and Johnny Tucker gave them permission to look around and take pictures.

The officer then describes what he saw:

While taking photographs of the inside and out of the residence, I noticed the floor falling through, several bugs and roaches, trash that was piled, dirty dishes with food and bugs in them, and their only toilet full of feces, and just in front of the toilet was toilet paper with feces all over it, stacked several feet high. There was also toilet paper with feces on it being walked on in the bathroom and hallway.

The officer said that the Tuckers told him several times that they were trying to clean the place up.

"I advised them both that it did not appear that any effort was being made to pick the place up, and that I had contacted Child Protective Services due to the living conditions," the officers wrote in his report. "Christina advised they had spoke with Child Protective Services before and the worker said it wasn't the worst they had seen. I advised Christina the living conditions were bad for anyone, including a child, even if it wasn't the worst someone had seen."

According to the officer's report, the child did indeed have a diaper rash.

When Johnny Tucker was told that that the living conditions were bad, he allegedly responded, "Yeah, I know it's bad." Both parents told the officers that they would work in cleaning the home while they waited for Child Protective Services to arrive -- and that the home had gotten in that condition in a two-month period.

When a representative from Child Protective Services did arrive, the Tuckers were told that their child would be taken from them. Immediately afterward, the child was taken to a car outside. His diaper had to be changed immediately, because it was full.

On Tuesday afternoon, WDRB's Gilbert Corsey spoke with Deputy Dustin Steward, who responded to the home and witnessed the conditions firsthand.

"I understand your house can get a little messy, but this is way beyond anything we've seen for a long time," Steward said.

He said he saw, "trash and feces that was piled up. The floor is caving in and absolutely no effort to pick up at all and take care of that kind of stuff."

The deputy showed us some of the pictures officers took. One picture shows soiled toilet paper stacked waist-high in front to the commode. There were 40 more pictures just like it, and some were too graphic to show in our newscast.

"They had walked through it, and it had been strung out into the hallway, and down the hallway," Steward said. 

You could barely see the floor under this pile of debris in some of the pictures. In one, the kitchen refrigerator overflows with mold, with dishes stained and untouched. In the living room, trash is piled as high as the television, and bugs and critters can be seen at every turn. 

"I honestly couldn't believe that two grown-ups would live there, let alone allow their 18-month-old son to be running around," Steward said.

Steward says it's not just dirty, it's dangerous. He charged parents Johnny and Christina Tucker with neglect of a dependent. And in a community where almost every home tells you to keep out, neighbors say the Tuckers' mess was hardly a secret. 

"There was nothing but a path to a little baby in a crib," said neighbor Rita Booker. "Said he couldn't even get out and do nothing."

"When they came by, they'd just throw food at the kid 'cause they couldn't get to them to feed him or nothing," said Donald Kiser, another neighbor.

WDRB's Gilbert Corsey counted at least five bags of trash on the steps behind the trailer. A wagon was filled with more, and there was garbage spread across the ground behind the Tuckers' home. We're told a neighbor helped the parents clean after authorities came and took their child.  

Someone called to tip off authorities about the toddler. Steward says he's glad they did. 

"The filth was awful," Steward said.

What started as a welfare check ended as a rescue.

On Aug. 10, the officer requested that both Johnny and Christine Tucker be charged with neglect of a dependent. They were arrested on Monday. Both suspects were held at the Jackson County Detention Center, until Tuesday afternoon, when not guilty pleas were entered on their behalf. Afterward, they were released on their own recognizance. 

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