BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Authorities plan to file charges against a man and a woman accused of leaving 19 children ranging from 8 months to 14 years old unattended for a week in a sweltering, filthy home near Bowling Green.
The children were found Monday night in a small three-bedroom rental home near Interstate 65 by officers who were responding to a complaint from a neighbor. It was littered with dog feces and had no air conditioning, Warren County Sheriff's Detective Tim Robinson said.
"It's such an unusual circumstance to find 19 children like that, we're still putting things together right now," Robinson said.
The adults, Irving "Joe" Smith and Jackie Farah, left town on June 27 and told a neighbor to check on the kids, Robinson said. They are expected to face charges when they return.
"It looks like a blended family," Robinson said, with some of the children related to Smith and others related to Farah.
The home was a sweltering 90 degrees when officers arrived, Robinson said. Temperatures had reached 101 degrees in Bowling Green earlier that day. The children were treated at a local hospital and then placed into protective custody.
Officers also removed nine dogs and a cat from the home. They found an inch of dog feces in one of the rooms and very little food for the children, Robinson said.
"They had went to neighbors' residences at different times begging for food," he said.
Smith and Farah last week told a neighbor they had a family emergency in Michigan and had to leave, Robinson said. He said it's likely the neighbor didn't know there were so many children staying in the house.
When officers arrived, the children behaved as if they were often left alone, Robinson said.
It was "not really a surprise to just be hanging out there by themselves," Robinson said of the kids' behavior. "While certain children would be frantic -- `I need my mom' -- this wasn't happening" with these kids.
Robinson said Smith and Farah have said they are returning to speak with police, but he said that's not assured.
"Who knows when they will show up?" he said. Robinson said he police would locate them if they don't return.