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Mom who left kids in filthy home gets jail

December 10, 1998|By MARLO BARNHART

Jodi Marie Faith on Wednesday listed reasons why her four children, ranging in age from 2 to 5, were living in filth on Oct. 15 when Hagerstown City Police found them alone in an apartment infested with fleas and lice.

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That did not keep Washington County District Judge Noel Spence from sentencing Faith, 22, to 60 days in jail.

"When was the last time you did laundry?" Spence asked Faith as he looked at pictures of knee-deep dirty clothing on the floor of the 215 E. Franklin St. apartment.

Photos of dirty dishes piled on a rusty stove prompted the judge to ask the same question about washing dishes.

"Not as long as it looks," Faith answered.

The pictures also showed rotten food on counters and floors, dog feces on a rug, and bags of garbage piled in another room.

The children were photographed on a couch on which they were sleeping - one wedged down in a cushion in an attempt to keep warm, according to Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Susan Lochbaum.

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"These photos speak a thousand words," Spence said.

Faith said her children were fine that evening when she left them with a stepbrother while she visited her fiance.

"They were watching a Disney movie when I left," Faith said in court. "I didn't mean to fall asleep at my fiance's house."

When found by police, the children were partially clothed and had severe cases of head lice. They were taken into custody by the Washington County Department of Social Services.

Caseworker Beth Hawbaker said in court that three of the children are doing well in foster care while a fourth is having problems brought on by severe neglect.

"Dental hygiene is a problem for all of them," Hawbaker said.

Patrol officers Ernie Stoner and Steve Magaha, the initial investigators, also found a 14-year-old boy asleep in the basement amid rubble. He was the stepchild Faith referred to as the person in charge of her young children that night.

Faith arrived home at 8:45 a.m., telling police she had last checked on the children at midnight.

Authorities said the apartment smelled of rotten food and was strewn with cat and dog feces, flies, dirty clothes and dirty dishes.

Cooked and uncooked hot dogs and frozen chicken legs, which had been torn up either by a pet or a child, were evident throughout the apartment, said Stoner and Hagerstown Code Enforcement Officer Marc David.

At least five people - police officers, social workers and David - had to be deloused afterward, officials said.

Faith, who was in court Wednesday without an attorney, pleaded guilty to four counts of leaving a child unattended.

Spence gave her the maximum 30-day sentence for two of those counts, to be served consecutively. The other cases earned 30-day suspended sentences.

"Nothing you can do to me is worse than what I go through each day," Faith told Spence.

Lochbaum said that Faith is awaiting a court hearing on charges she failed to send the older children to school.

Those cases are scheduled for trial Dec. 15 in Washington County District Court.

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