Children found locked in camperPublished 12:31pm Wednesday, June 19, 2013
‘Deplorable’ conditions lead to property’s condemnation
Suffolk police rescued two children on Tuesday from a chained and padlocked camper without air conditioning during an investigation into gang-related activity at a home in the 300 block of North Division Street.
The children, a 2-year-old girl and a 6-month-old boy, were found alone in the camper with the windows closed, no running water and no air conditioning, according to Suffolk spokeswoman Diana Klink. A power cord from the home provided the only electricity to the trailer.
The children’s diapers “appeared to have not been changed for some time, and they were filthy and covered with bug bites,” Klink stated in a press release. “The infant boy was having difficulty breathing. Conditions in the trailer were deplorable, with soiled diapers, feces- and urine-covered bedding, flea infestation and rotten floor boards.”
While police were investigating, the children’s mother, Jaronda Rena Wilson, 23, of Newport News, soon returned to the home after going to the store to buy beer, Klink stated. She and Laron Huston Neal, 22, of the 300 block of North Division Street were arrested and charged with two counts of abuse and neglect of children, reckless disregard and two counts of cruelty and injuries to children.
Police originally had been called to the residence regarding a fight on June 5, according to Klink. Subsequent investigation revealed that Kimberly Shanqua Shelton, 20, of the 300 block of North Division Street, had allegedly assaulted another woman as part of a gang initiation.
Officers from the Neighborhood Enforcement Team obtained search warrants for the home where Shelton had been living and executed those warrants on Tuesday. While they were at the home, they heard children crying in the camper behind the home, Klink stated, and they forced entry into the locked camper.
Marvin Askew, who lives in the home with his mother, claimed he had never heard of Shelton and contended the children were never locked in the camper and were allowed outdoors to play. That’s how they got the bug bites, he said, which were from mosquitoes.
“We’ve got a mosquito problem,” he said. “We live by the swamp.”
Jerry Colbert, a family friend, owns the camper that was parked behind Askew’s house. Colbert said he was letting his son stay in the camper, and the children belonged to his son’s girlfriend, whom he had only known for about two weeks.
Klink said Neal is the brother-in-law of Wilson and babysat the children on occasion. In addition, Askew was arrested Tuesday for trespassing, but Klink said she did not have any information about his arrest.
Klink said the children were transported to Sentara Obici Hospital for medical treatment and were released to their grandfather, who lives in Newport News, with caseworkers from Newport News Child Protective Services assigned to their case.
The property was condemned and boarded up due to conditions in the residence and in the camper, police said. Suffolk Animal Control also took custody of one of two pit bulls at the home.
Askew said the dog, which was unlicensed, had recently been rescued after a nearby resident set it loose and said they did not want the dog anymore. Askew took it in but had not had the chance to get it licensed yet, he said.
The door went unanswered at three neighboring houses when a reporter tried to seek comment.