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Parents Charged After Kids Found In ‘deplorable’ Home

September 28, 2018

DURYEA — Three family members are facing child endangerment charges after police found six children living amid trash and insects in conditions officers described as being “deplorable beyond belief.”

The parents, Edward F. McKenney, 69, and Belinda McKenney, 46, were charged with endangering the welfare of the six children, who range in age from 3 to 13. Edward McKenney’s daughter Jessica McKenney, 30, was also charged with one count of child endangerment.

According to the complaint, police responded to the family home at 1225 Main St. early Tuesday to a report of children living in squalor.

Upon arrival, officers encountered the strong odor of urine and feces, police said. They also observed garbage and filth throughout the home, with cockroaches scurrying around amid scattered rubbish, the complaint says.

Due to the “severity of the condition,” police retreated from the home and confronted Edward and Jessica McKenney on the porch, police said. The pair had nothing to say about the condition of the home or how they could allow six children to live like that, police said.

Officers contacted Luzerne County Children and Youth Services, whose caseworkers then conducted an evaluation of the home. In addition to cockroaches, flies and spiders infesting the house, authorities observed holes in the walls and openings in the ceiling revealing exposed wires, police said.

Caseworkers were also unable to enter an upstairs bathroom, which had been overrun by between 10 and 15 cats, police said.

Upon being notified that caseworkers were taking the children into protective custody, Edward McKenney offered to put them into a hotel and clean the house. Police refused the offer, the complaint says.

Officers then spoke by phone to Belinda McKenney, who was on vacation in Minnesota, police said. Belinda McKenney, who was last at the home Sunday, maintained that the conditions were not that bad, the complaint says.

But a caseworker informed her that the conditions “did not develop overnight,” police said.

The children were taken into protective custody and police contacted a code enforcement officer about having the property condemned, police said.

Edward and Belinda McKenney were each charged with six felony counts of endangering the welfare of children, while Jessica McKenney was charged with one count.

Magisterial District Judge Daniel O’Donnell arraigned Edward and Jessica McKenney on Wednesday afternoon, releasing Edward McKenney on $25,000 unsecured bail and Jessica McKenney on $10,000 unsecured bail.

They are due back in court for a preliminary hearing Oct. 9.

Court records showed Belinda McKenney had not been arraigned as of Friday.

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