LORAIN, Ohio - A mother is in jail after Lorain police officers uncovered the filthy conditions she and her seven children were living in.
The Lorain Police Department got the phone call July 5 of an "unwanted woman" at the neighbor's house on Long Avenue. Once officers arrived, they found Erica Perez, apparently drunk, with her seven children. They said Perez was standing in the middle of the road crying "uncontrollably," accusing the neighbor of stealing her $400 cellphone.
After several minutes of coaxing Perez to move out of the street and chat with them inside her house, Perez cooperated. That's when the real nightmare unfolded.
"I opened the door of the residence and was immediately overcome by the smell of garbage and filth," said the officer in his report. He noted each child, ranging from age 1 to 9, was completely filthy and the 1-year-old sitting in the stroller looked to have on a dirty diaper that wasn't changed in days. The officer noted the diaper had rubbed him raw so he called LifeCare to come help.
"The couch was dirty and ripped. There was food and garbage all over the floor. The furniture was black with dirt and the room smelled like urine and garbage," the officer added.
When he walked into the kitchen, he reported the smell and sight was even worse. The refrigerator and freezer weren't even suitable for food to be stored in it.
"The stairs off the kitchen were no cleaner, if not dirtier, than a city street. At the bottom of the staircase I had to wave my hands through the mass of flying insects to walk through," the officer said in his 14-page report. "And at the top of the stairs was a pile of children's clothes soaked in urine."
Once Perez realized children services was called, officers said she became more "offensive, belligerent and disorderly." They also described the mother as "filthy, unkept and unbathed."
"Perez was highly intoxicated and more concerned with the alleged theft of either one or two cellphones worth $400, however, there wasn't $50 worth of food or clothing in the residence," said the officer.
Perez was arrested and faces seven counts of child endangering charges, among others. She's behind bars in the Lorain County Jail on $10,000 cash bond.
At her arraignment on July 6, Perez pleaded not guilty. Her pretrial is set for July 25 at 1 p.m.
Meanwhile, Perez's two sisters are taking care of her seven children.
"In my 13 years as a police officer, I have never observed such a filthy, disgusting, unsafe, environment where children are being housed."
Children services said they have been previously called out to the house.