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Children found in closet at overcrowded day-care center

September 3, 1997

BETHALTO, Ill. (AP) _ A woman who had a license to care for six children was arrested after police found 16 children in her home, including three in a closet and eight in the back yard unable to use the bathroom.

``It was a warehouse for children,″ prosecutor Bill Haine said.

Debora A. Rees, 33, was charged with endangering the lives or health of 14 of the children by leaving them unsupervised. She also was charged with two license violations, as was her husband, David J. Rees, 34, a car salesman. They were arrested on Tuesday.

Rees did not assist in the day-care operation, but was charged because his name is on the license, Haine said.

The charges are misdemeanors, punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and up to one year in jail.

Police went to the home responding to a complaint that a child had bit another 20 times last week. They found three children _ ages 8 months, 10 months and 18 months _ in a closet. Two were asleep and the third was crying, police said.

At times, there were as many as 20 children present at the home, and they would hide some in the garage when parents arrived to pick up their children, Haine said.

Other than the child who was bitten, there was no evidence of any children being injured, authorities said.

Detective Greg Schumacher said the day-care center probably pulled in $1,000 a week.

Debora Rees was cited twice, in 1993 and in June, for having more children than allowed under her day-care license, police said.

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