JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A mother was arrested last week after three children were found at a Westside home that police said was littered with feces, dirty clothes, trash and food scraps, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
Katherine Plyler, 25, faces a felony charge of child neglect.
Police were alerted to the home by a woman, who said she was waiting on her daughter and grandchild to finish up at a neighboring doctor’s office on Jan. 13 when a toddler in the window of the house got her attention. According to Plyler’s arrest report, the boy was naked, banging on the window and “uttering unknown words.” The report said the toddler was at the window for more than 30 minutes without a parent entering the room. The witness, Rebecca Gough, told News4Jax that she decided she needed to call police.
“I didn’t realize something was wrong at first, but he got more and more insistent,” Gough said. “He was … kicking at the window.”
Police said three children were inside the house and they appeared to be dirty, but not covered in feces. The arrest report said one of the children was naked, and the other two children had on shirts.
According to the arrest report, the officer who responded to the home said, “The entire house overwhelming (smelled) like human feces, which progressively got stronger as I walked closer to the children’s room. Inside … the children’s room, the odor was horrific, which made it difficult to (breathe). Feces had been smeared all over the walls of the children’s room.”
The arrest report noted that there multiple walls and items throughout the house that had dried feces on them, and “the house was littered with dirty clothes and trash.” The officer also wrote in the report that there were food scraps on the floor of the kitchen.
“My heart breaks,” Gough said. “I’m glad that I acted because sometimes what you think is innocent — a child popping up and giving you a wave in the window — is not innocent. This is a child crying out for help.”
The arrest report stated that Plyler told police that there were three small toilets inside the children’s bedroom for potty training and that “when she lays them down for a nap, they would spread feces on the walls of the room.” The report said she added that the children’s room “’could be nicer,’ but they are being fed and the overall condition of the house is ‘good.’”
“No one should live in that, especially not a child,” Gough said. “Children can’t take care of themselves. They depend on us to take care of them.”
The Department of Children and Families was notified and responded to the home, according to the arrest report. Three small mattresses could be seen Monday, piled outside the home.
Plyler was booked Jan. 13 into the Duval County jail, where she remained as of Monday afternoon on $15,000 bond, online jail records show. News4Jax was unable to get in touch with the family on Monday.
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