CHICAGO – Rats and roaches scurried across the floor, empty bottles of alcohol lay strewn about, waste backed up in a toilet, and it was cold.
Chicago police alleged Sunday that those were the squalid conditions in a West Side apartment where officers found three babies, aged 4 months, 14 months and 16 months.
Harrison District Lt. John Andrews called the case "shocking and appalling."
Officers entered the home Saturday night, first finding the older babies, both boys, on the floor near exposed electrical wires and a space heater, according to police.
Only after officers heard another cry later did they find the baby girl between a mattress and a wall, Andrews said. He alleged that adults in the room hadn't mentioned the girl.
"If not for alertness of the officers and luck, that girl might have died," he said.
Three adults, who told police they lived in the apartment, have been charged in the case.
Kevin Wysinger, 21, and Latrice Johnson, 23, were charged with three misdemeanor counts of endangering the life of a child and three misdemeanor counts of contributing to the neglect of a child; Shirley Fenner, 21, faces one count of the same charges.
The babies were taken to a hospital for observation, then turned over to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, who placed them in the care of other relatives.
The adults charged are the parents of at least one child, Andrews said, but he declined to say who were the parents of which children.
Family members took issue with police accounts.
Shirley Johnson, the mother of Latrice Johnson and Shirley Fenner, told the Chicago Tribune that the apartment is hers, and that neither her daughters nor the babies live there.
She challenged police descriptions of the apartment, denying it is infested with rats and roaches. She also disputed accounts that the baby girl was hidden on a floor behind a mattress.
"She wasn't behind no bed," she said.