EVERETT, Mass. (AP) _ Police who quelled a domestic dispute by arresting a husband and wife outside the couple's house said they discovered an even more troubling scene inside.

Five young children were found shivering in the basement of a home littered with beer cans, animal feces, rotting food and cockroaches.

The stench _ which could be detected from the street _ was overwhelming, said the police officers who first entered the building Friday.

``It was just unbelievable,'' said Sgt. Jim Gabriel.

Two girls and three boys, who range in age from 22 months to 13 years, were placed with relatives and in foster homes.

Their parents, Frank and Lorraine Trombetta, face unrelated charges in court. Their converted two-family home in a suburb north of Boston has been declared unfit for human habitation.

``It's clear that the people who were here weren't able to care for themselves or for the kids,'' said City Solicitor Bob Jordan, who inspected the house Tuesday.

The house had no electricity, and a kerosene heater was used to warm the upstairs rooms. There were no beds, mattresses or toys, and the refrigerator contained only moldy condiments, police said.

Lorraine Carli, a Department of Social Services spokeswoman, said the Trombettas had been investigated periodically by the state for over a decade, but there were never any allegations of physical abuse.

``It was a family that had a long on-and-off involvement for various kinds of neglect issues, but never ones that rose to the level that we saw on Friday,'' Carli said.

Social workers will conduct an investigation before authorities decide whether to file charges related to any alleged neglect.