Bronx parents in court after boy found living in squalor

KINGSBRIDGE, Bronx (WABC) -- The Bronx parents accused of keeping their children in horrific conditions were in court on Thursday.

Police found their 5-year-old son home alone in the Bronx, living in deplorable conditions last week.

When asked if she misses her four children, Lewis answered 'yes.' The four children, prosecutors say she raised in an apartment in the most unsanitary and disgusting conditions imaginable.

The attorney for 48-year-Charlotte Lewis shut down anything his client had to say publicly in her own defense. She appeared first and separately from her husband for a brief return date in a Bronx courtroom.

Charlotte and her husband, Wilfred, are facing several charges in what prosecutors are calling a case of "wanton abuse and neglect."

Charlotte, a nurse at Montefiore Hospital was charged with four counts of failure to exercise control of a minor. She was arrested at the hospital.

59-year-old Wilfred Lewis, an MTA employee, was charged with endangering a child and four counts of failure to exercise control of a minor.

Prosecutors say the parents were not living in poverty but were raising their children in abject squalor.

A Fed-Ex worker making a delivery to the apartment in the Kingsbridge section on Friday noticed the child by himself.

"FedEx came and dropped off a package and the kid opened the door," said neighbor William Villafane. "When they asked for the parents, he answered that there was nobody."

The deliveryman then went out and hunted down a police officer. The child told police that his parents had not been home since Thursday night.

The parents have three other children - 13-year-old and 12-year-old girls and a 15-year-old boy.

The mother told police that they were in school and that she allowed the 5-year-old to stay home because he was sick.

She said she believed he was old enough to care for himself.

The apartment was full of human feces on the wall, and was infested with rats and roaches. Prosecutors say they also found maggots, and dead and live rodents.

One of the children was taken to the hospital with insects crawling on his body. A doctor indicated that one of the children had scabies from lice crawling under the skin.

There were also significant blood smears found in the apartment. A large quantity of the smears were in the bathroom - on the floors and toilet. It is unclear where the blood came from, prosecutors say.

Neighbors said they were shocked by the conditions inside the apartment. "It's unbelievable knowing you're in a building that they got an apartment in those conditions," said Villafane. "I live on the third floor, we pass by it and we never knew that it was like that. I got a child, he's a year, and I try to keep things as clean as possible for him."

All four children are now in the custody of the Administration for Children's Services.

A judge set bail at $15,000 for both parents.

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