The house of squalor that 10 children lived in
TEN children have been removed from a home in Fairfield, California, where police say they were tortured, burnt, beaten and even shot with a pellet gun while living amid squalor and abuse of all kinds.
All of this allegedly took place inside a bright, gable-roofed, four-bedroom house that looks from the outside as well-kept as the rest of those in the cul-de-sac. Some neighbours of Ina Rogers and Jonathan Allen said they had no idea the couple even had so many children.
And Rogers, out on bail while her husband appeared in court on 15 felony charges this week, gave reporters an openhouse tour of what she insisted was a loving if unconventional home.
“My husband is an amazing person,” she said. “I am an amazing mother.”
The 30-year-old is the mother of all 10 children – from a 4-month-old infant to her oldest, a 12-year-boy.
Allen, a year younger than Rogers, is the father of eight of the children, she said.
Larry Magney, who lives across the street in Fieldstone Court, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the couple moved in about a year ago.
He was returning from church one day at the end of March, he said, and found Rogers “running around the neighbourhood” in search of her 12-year-old. She later told reporters the boy had left home angry because she had taken his computer tablet away.
The boy was found sleeping under a bush in a neighbour’s yard, police said.
What officers saw when they returned him to his home on March 31 caused authorities to seize the children and launch a criminal investigation.
Urine, human and animal faeces, garbage and rotten food littered the floor, police said, and heaps of debris blocked off parts of the house.
Pictures obtained by ABC affiliate KGO show furniture, trash, toys and miscellany scattered at every angle, as if a storm had torn through the home. A bathroom was covered wall-to-wall in animal droppings.
Rogers told police she had torn the house apart looking for the 12-year-old, Associated Press reported. When she was later asked why all 10 children slept in a single room while the other bedrooms were used as the parents’ quarters, a “meditation room” and a playroom, Rogers replied that the children liked it that way.
The mother was arrested on March 31, the same night her son was returned to her, and booked into Solano County Jail for alleged child neglect.
All her children were then taken into protective custody by Solano County Child Welfare services and placed in the care of other family members, with whom they remain.
In the six weeks since that arrest, police said, authorities have interviewed the eight older children and learnt more disturbing details about their lives.
The children had been home-schooled and were seen outside so rarely that some neighbours were shocked to learn that more than a few lived at the house.
Some of the children, police said, described incidents of intentional abuse dating to 2014 – puncture wounds, burns, bruising and injuries consistent with being shot with an airsoft or BB gun.
On Friday, Allen was also arrested and charged with nine counts of felony torture and six counts of felony child abuse.
He appeared in court on Monday, pleaded not guilty, and was ordered held in lieu of about $5 million (R62m) bail.
Sharon Henry, chief deputy district attorney for Solano County, called the father’s behaviour “sadistic” and said Rogers would likely also face more charges.
“Based on what the children stated in their interviews, we believe torture occurred in this house,” Henry said at a news conference.
But the mother, free on bail since early April, held a sort of news conference of her own this week.
“My kids get bumped and bruised and scratched because they’re kids, but that’s it,” she told reporters in front of her house. “There’s no broken bones, there is no major scars, nothing.”
She led reporters through the house, which the AP reported still looked squalid behind the cream-coloured, hedge-lined exterior: animal droppings littered the bathroom, and scuff marks still covered some walls.
Rogers said she felt unfairly judged for her lifestyle. She first got pregnant when she was 16, she said, and had been with Rogers for the past 10 years, and they both wanted a large family.
They both worked, she said – she on the graveyard shift as an EKG technician, and Allen as a tattoo artist.
Aleida Quartman, who told AP she was one of Rogers’s co-workers, said she knew the mother to spoil her family – even if so many children, plus cats, a dog and fish left her house unsightly.
Allen’s mother, Peggy Allen, said she had spoken to her son about the importance of housekeeping,
Also, on Christian values – but that Allen avoided her and kept his relatives away from the children.
“My husband has a lot of tattoos.
“He looks like a scary individual, and that’s why people are so quick to judge him,” Rogers told reporters.
Also this week, Allen told KCRA-TV from Solano County Jail that he has never spanked his children.
“I want the police to know that I am not an animal, I am not an animal,” Allen said.
On the same day, the Solano County District Attorney’s office said it would seek to amend the complaint against Rogers to add nine counts of felony child abuse. – The Washington Post
Ina Rogers talks to reporters in Fairfield, California. INSET: Jonathan Allen appeared in court on 15 felony charges this week.
The home of Ina Rogers and Jonathan Allen in Fairfield.