Two people are charged with locking a disabled child in a bedroom with no lights after officers checking a suburban Chicago home found nine children living in "filth," police said.
Charles A. Hopkins, 59, and Marinda Y. Hicks, 38, both face multiple charges of abuse and neglect of the nine children after a Dwight D. Eisenhower High School teacher requested on Oct. 24 that police conduct a well-being check at the home, Blue Island police said.
Officers visited the student’s home in the 1800 block of West Vermont Street, where they smelled “a pungent odor from the filth inside,” police said. They also saw what they believed was urine and fecal matter on the carpets and bedding, police said.
The home also had very little food, sticky floors, dirty dishes and a collapsing roof, police said. There were just five beds for the nine children and two adults.
The officers also found a bedroom with metal bars and wood secured to the windows and doors “to prevent escape,” police said. The room had a toilet, a mattress on the floor, and no working lights.
Officers learned during the investigation that the disabled child was locked in the bedroom when her father left for work, police said.
The city’s building department was called and authorities determined the home was unfit to live in due to “unsanitary conditions,” police said.
The nine children were placed into protective custody and officers “immediately began working with the Department of Children and Family Services,” police said.
A DCFS spokesperson confirmed the agency is investigating Hopkins and Hicks for neglect. All of the children, including the 18-year-old daughter, are safely in the care of relatives with a safety plan in effect. The agency is assessing the need for additional services for any of the children.
DCFS has had past involvement with the family going back to 2009, according to the spokesperson. Past investigations into neglect were unfounded. Details on investigations before 2016 have been expunged, but an investigation in 2016 revealed no evidence of neglect or abuse. During the 2016 investigation, there was no finding of environmental neglect in the condition of the house.
Hopkins and Hicks were both charged with neglect of a person with a disability, unlawful restraint, and seven counts of child endangerment, according to Cook County court records, which list Hicks’ name as Malinda.
They were ordered released on electronic monitoring, according to a Cook County sheriff’s spokeswoman. Hopkins was released Tuesday morning, but Hicks remained in custody at the jail. They are due back in court Thursday in Markham.