A Florida teenager placed a call earlier this week that ultimately landed her parents in jail.
The 14-year-old girl called an abuse hotline on Thursday to report squalid living conditions and abuse in her family's home in Bunnell, Florida, according to a Facebook post from the Flagler County Sheriff's Office on Saturday. Her call later led to police arresting her parents, Dennis Allen, 33, and Betty Nicolicchia-Allen, 42, and charging them with five counts each of child neglect.
The girl told authorities she had to take full-time care of her siblings — ages 6, 8, 9 and 12 — as well as three dogs, a rabbit and two chickens, while her parents worked late into the evening. She also said she was not being taught anything in home schooling and that she was contemplating suicide as a result of the home's squalor and her mother's physically and emotionally abusive behavior.
When police responded to the girl's call on Thursday, they found the home in "complete disarray."
The front lawn was littered with debris, including rusted metal and beer cans, and the front porch was covered in chicken feces.
The girl confirmed to deputies on site that she had called the abuse hotline and allowed them inside the home, where they found "deplorable living conditions."
"Every room of the home contained an abundance of animal feces, animal urine, rotting food, roaches, and other flying insects," the Facebook post said. "Some rooms were so littered with trash that deputies were unable to see the floor and their boots stuck to the filth-covered floors."
Deputies found one bag of frozen chicken in the freezer, but no edible food in the refrigerator.
The family had received the home from Habitat for Humanity, according to Brittany Kershaw, a public affairs officer for the Flagler County Sheriff's Office.
The children told deputies they had last bathed between three and seven days ago. They also said they had to travel to a restaurant with public restrooms whenever they wanted to bathe because their home lacked running water.
“This is a traumatic situation for all of the children involved,” Sheriff Rick Staly said in the Facebook post. “Halloween is a day where kids should be out having fun, not contemplating ending their life. ... I am thankful that these kids are now safe from these two individuals who obviously do not know how to properly care for children.”
The four younger children were placed in the custody of the Department of Children and Families on Thursday. The 14-year-old girl was placed in protective custody since she mentioned contemplating suicide.
Allen and Nicolicchia-Allen were arrested on Friday afternoon and held on $5,000 bond each after deputies' attempts to make contact with them on Thursday had failed. They made bond on Saturday evening, Kershaw said. They remain separated from their children.