TAMPA, Fla.- A Tampa couple has been arrested after police found five children inside their home with no electricity and no working toilet.
45-year-old Barbara Boone and 65-year-old Jose Colon were arrested by Tampa police yesterday. The kids that were found in the house ranged in age from 8 to 17.
The living conditions the kids were found in were beyond poor. Police say the kids were forced to use a bucket for a toilet. They also said the house was full of rats and spiders and other insects and fecal matter. The only food investigators could find in the house was spoiled.
An anonymous tip to the Department of Children and Family Services led investigators to the house. The couple made their first court appearance on Tuesday morning. During the appearance, Judge John N. Conrad told Boone, “These children lived as if they were animals in a cage. I mean, that’s the reality,” per News Channel 8. He also said, “I mean, an animal couldn’t live in that. I don’t know what right-thinking person could let their child live in that type of environment.”
Boone and Colon will face five counts of child neglect and five counts of contributing to the delinquency of a child each.
News Channel 8 investigated the anonymous tip and received this response from the DCF:
“In Hillsborough County, all child protection investigations are handled by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Child Protection Division. I know the police report from TPD mentioned the anonymous call made to DCF. In counties where the Sheriff conducts the investigations, our abuse hotline takes the call and then transfers the invest to the Sheriff’s office immediately after intake. HCSO then conducts the child protection investigation. Any questions regarding the Sheriff’s office process as well as any questions about possible communication with the school district on cases would need to be handled by HCSO.
-Natalie Harrell, Communications Director, SunCoast Region Florida Department of Children and Families”
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is investigating further and child protection investigators will continue to look into the case.
A judge will determine where the children should be placed and whether parental rights should be terminated, according to DCF.
The couple is also facing animal cruelty charges.
Quote from News Channel 8.