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Mother charged with abuse

The 26-year-old and her five children were living in filthy conditions in their house, police say.

By RYAN DAVIS

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 8, 2001


ZEPHYRHILLS -- No one would answer the door, but a 2-year-old kept peering out the window.

So after 45 minutes of knocking, the woman at the front door called police.

Zephyrhills Police Officer David Hoffman arrived at the house, 4820 16th St., about 10 a.m. Friday and knocked on the front and back doors for 10 more minutes.

Worried about the child in the diaper peering out the window, he forced his way into the house, pushing the front door open through a pile of trash, police said.

Inside he uncovered an ankle-deep sea of dirty diapers, broken glass and old food, he reported.

He also found five kids -- ages 1 to 5 -- living in it.

First he saw broken glass and a trail of ants on the floor, according to his report. The entire floor was covered with garbage, toys, old food and clothing.

The kitchen was worse.

Knives and metal cans with the sharp lids exposed sat out in the kitchen, he reported. So did old food.

Dirty diapers were strewn across the floor.

The kids were a mess, he reported.

All of them had cuts, bruises and sores, and all of them -- even the 5-year-old -- had diaper rash.

All the while, the mother was sleeping, police said.

Hoffman watched one of the kids slip on the floor and begin to cry.

He started timing the mother's response.

Three minutes and 42 seconds later, she woke up, he reported.

He asked her why the house was essentially a trash dump.

The woman, Kelley Renee Turner's answer: "Because I have not gotten around to clean it," Hoffman reported.

Turner, 26, was arrested and charged with child abuse/neglect, police said. Her five children were removed from the house by child protection investigators, who said they had an ongoing investigation of the family.

The children will enter a system at the outset of a historic change. The state this week handed over the management of services for children of troubled families to a St. Petersburg-based non-profit agency. It makes Pasco the third county in the state to embark on a landmark social services experiment known as community-based care.

The name of the woman who called police was not available Saturday.

Turner was being held Saturday afternoon at the county jail in Land O'Lakes in lieu of $10,000 bail.

- Ryan Davis covers higher education and social services in Pasco. He can be reached at 1-800-333-7505 ext. 3452 or by e-mail at rdavis@sptimes.com.

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