A Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office investigation will determine if charges will be brought against a Hilton Head Island mother after her three children were taken into protective custody Monday amid filthy conditions in their home.
Sheriff’s Office Capt. Bob Bromage said Thursday the investigation remains active and that any criminal charges would be filed by the Sheriff’s Office, he said.
“(The Sheriff’s Office’s) investigative process involves forensic interviews (with) the children to try to establish the duration of the kind of living condition, whether they were being cared for and fed properly and if there is any physical abuse as well,” Bromage said. The investigation is in the interest of the children.”
A deputy conducted a welfare check at the Murray Avenue home on Monday and found “piles of animal feces” inside. He also found black mold, mildew, dirt, old food and no towels or soap in the house.
The children were removed by the S.C. Department of Social Services after Hilton Head Elementary School employee said she noticed a student who had “poor hygiene” use the bathroom often during the day, according to a Sheriff’s Office report. Two adult dogs and four 1-month-old puppies were surrendered to Animal Control after.
DSS is conducting a separate investigation.
Marilyn Matheus, director of media relations for DSS department, said Thursday that state statute does not allow her to discuss specifics of the case.
Generally speaking, though, children in such cases could be taken in by a family member, placed in foster care or put in a group home. Matheus said that decision depends on the family’s situation.
“It’s a case by case process,” Matheus said. “We look to try to make sure that the child is safe, and that’s our first and foremost concern.”
The Department of Social Services classifies abuse and neglect of a child into five categories.
Those categories — neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, exposure to domestic violence and emotional abuse — can be displayed in several different signs, including:
Signs of neglect
▪ The child is underweight.
▪ The child has a poor growth pattern and failure to thrive.
▪ The child is inappropriately dressed .