GREENFIELD — Two Greenfield parents charged with neglect used drugs in front of their children, calling it “grown-up medicine that little kids can’t take” — except when they encouraged their 9-year-old son to try their marijuana, court records state.
Michelle Wilson, 33, and Craig Corbett, 37, each face five felony counts of neglect of a dependent — one charge for each of their five young children. They appeared in Hancock Circuit Court on Monday; both pleaded not guilty; and bond was set at $2,000 cash for each. The children have been temporarily placed in foster care.
Reports state that allegations of abuse include physical — food deprivation and beatings with belts and coat hangers — and emotional — threatening to kill the children.
Story continues below gallery
Police were first called to the couple’s home in the 200 block of Gaslite Lane in Greenfield in September, where Department of Child Services workers had discovered Wilson, Corbett and their five children — all 9 years old and younger — were living in an apartment that was infested with cockroaches, soiled with animal waste and filled with piles of garbage.
The home was so contaminated by garbage and animal waste that officers said they could smell the odors from outside, court records state.
While searching the property during a welfare check, police found each room in varying degrees of disarray, court records state.
There was no furniture in the living room, and garbage was piled in the corner of the room. The kitchen sink was stacked with dirty dishes, and cockroaches were seen crawling over the counters, walls and floors. Animal waste from the family’s dog and two cats dotted the floors, walls and mattresses, police said.
The home’s bathroom door was locked from the inside, and investigators detached the doorknob in order to gain access. When the doorknob was removed, “roaches rushed through the hole and up the door,” police said.
There was no hot water in the home; the couple’s children told investigators they took baths once every few days with water heated on the stove, reports state.
A Greenfield building inspector and a Hancock County Health Department environmental health specialist were both called to the home to assist in the investigation. Both officials told police the structure was not up to code and could not be lived in, court records state.
The property owner told police he sent an exterminator to the apartment to handle the bug problem, but Wilson and Corbett wouldn’t let the man inside, court documents state.
Wilson and Corbett were ordered to leave the apartment until the property was cleaned and reinspected by the health department, but the couple returned to the home a few days later, violating the police order, court records state.
The children told police Wilson and Corbett regularly used marijuana and cocaine at home in front of them, according to court records.
The children told police the “medicine” their parents used was called “pot” and “crack,” and the children were able to draw paraphernalia to show how their parents ingested the drugs, court records state.
The couple’s 9-year-old son told police he tried marijuana at least three times at his mother’s request, court records state.
The boy told police Wilson often talked about killing herself, and she threatened to the kill the children when she got angry, police said.
The children told police violence was common in the home, and Wilson and Corbett often beat them with belts and coat hangers, court records state.
The couple’s 8-year-old daughter told police the family ate only one meal a day, and “if anyone took food out of the refrigerator, they would be punished,” court records state.
Those punishments often resulted in beatings; sometimes, the children were punched by their parents, they said, according to records.
Three of the children were beaten and sent to their rooms after they stole hot dogs to have for dinner, a 6-year-old boy told police. The two remaining children were given candy to eat for dinner and were allowed to watch TV, court records state.
Each of the neglect charges Wilson and Corbett face is a Level 6 felony carrying a penalty of six months to 2½ years behind bars. They remained in the Hancock County Jail at press time.
Detective Sgt. Ron Chittum, the lead investigator on the case, said the situation in which he found the children was the worst he’d ever encountered.
“None of them were distraught when we took them away,” Chittum said.