Several children living in squalor at a suburban South Carolina home have been rescued by authorities, and two people have since been taken into custody and charged with neglect.
Diana Salbon, 26, and Erick Perez-Viera, 22, were identified as the parents of five of the children allegedly suffering in the dire state of living conditions inside of a bedroom of their home. The room lacked door handles and was allegedly dead-bolted from the outside, according to a Berkeley County Sheriff's Office incident report obtained by Oxygen.com.
"Twelve people living [in] this home and as you can see from the photographs — the conditions were just deplorable for children to be living in,” Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis said at a press conference Thursday, according to WCIV, a Charleston, South Carolina television station. "Feces, animal feces, human feces, trash and food particles, all in the upstairs part of the home.”
The alleged inhumane state of the home, which is located on Patriot Lane in Summerville, South Carolina, was discovered on Wednesday by a concerned property manager who was attempting to perform a home inspection but was startled by the sound of screaming children.
He said he attempted to knock, hoping to reach the occupants, but nobody answered, so he entered the property as the door was apparently unlocked.
Once inside, he claims he walked upstairs and noticed all of the doors were closed and “deadbolted from the outside,” the report states.
When the manager approached a corner bedroom, he said he heard a child cry out from behind the door, “Let me out, I am hungry,” according to the report.
The manager walked downstairs and found Diana Salbon in another bedroom with her infant child. When the man asked if he could free the hungry child from the locked room, Salbon allegedly told him, “No.”
Erick Perez-Viera then appeared and made a fuss about the manager’s presence inside of their home. The manager explained what compelled him to enter was the fact that “he could hear screams from upstairs,” the report said.
While leaving the home, the manager rang his wife and asked her to call 911.
"Honestly, I have seen some really crazy things, horror stories for days but this situation itself just tops the list,” the building’s property manager later told WCIV.
Responding deputies arrived and once inside, they claimed they immediately smelled the foul odor emanating from the locked bedroom and described it as “horrific.”
When they attempted to open the bedroom door they struggled because of “all of the clutter in the room,” according to the report.
Two children, ages 3 and 5, had allegedly been locked inside of the room strewn with junk, including an “unknown amount of small caged animals."
The deputies also noted the entire house was under surveillance.
“Every room in the house had cameras in them, even where the children slept and dressed,” the report said.
Three more children, all between the ages of 3 and 5, allegedly lived in the same bedroom with the two children, but were attending school at the time.
There were two other children living downstairs with their mother in a separate unit, in what was detailed as “livable conditions.”
A total of seven children, whose ages range from 1-year to 10-years-old, were taken into protective custody.
Sabon and Perez-Viera were brought under arrest and each faces a total of five counts of unlawful conduct toward a child.
If found guilty, the parents could be sentenced to up 10 years for each count.
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