A Berwyn woman charged after her 14-year-old son was found unresponsive in the yard of her squalor-ridden home was reportedly sentenced Monday to probation and has been barred from owning any animals.
Lydia Price, 52, was charged in 2011 with three counts of animal cruelty and criminal neglect of a disabled person following the death of her teenage son, Matthew Degner. She was found guilty in May and sentenced Monday afternoon in the Maywood branch of Cook County court where she was also ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Officials were called to the home on the 2800 block of Lombard Avenue after Degner, 14, was reported to be unresponsive and laying on the lawn. He later died at a hospital.
A Friday autopsy pointed to bronchopneumonia and his death was ruled natural, the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office said.
Officials refused to confirm some details, but neighbors told NBC Chicago that someone living in the home took the teen's body outside, presumably to keep investigators from seeing conditions inside the home.
Officials did enter the home, however and discovered more than 200 animals and unlivable conditions.
Investigators said they found more than 200 animals in the roughly 1,100 square-foot bungalow. The menagerie included dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, squirrels, at least one raccoon, two monkeys and two kinkajous.
The house was infested with cockroaches and spiders, police said, adding that there was urine and feces among the animals. Police said they had difficulty finding running water because the toilets, sinks and washing machine were broken.
A law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation said three other teens -- between the ages of 12 and 17 -- also lived in the home. All were suffering from flu-like symptoms.
A DCFS spokesman said it's believed the children were kept in isolation.
"Social isolation is one of the most powerful risk factors for serious harm to children. If we, as a community, never knock on that door, that no one ever seems to open, we may never know how bad it is, or how we can help," said DCFS spokesman Kendall Marlowe.
He said there'd been no previous contact between DCFS and the family.
Neighbors said the children never went to school and that the family had lived in the home for about eight years. The children were extremely malnourished, neighbors said, and it's suspected they never saw medical care.
The mother told investigators that all of her kids got sick on Sept. 4 with stomach problems, but she said that everyone seemed to be getting better, the source said.