Five family members kept seven children and more than a dozen animals in a Mastic, Long Island, house that reeked of urine and was littered with rotting food and animal feces, authorities said Friday.
Deputy Inspector Mark Griffiths of the Suffolk County police said a foul odor greeted police officers when they arrived at the home in a working-class Long Island community Thursday afternoon, after being contacted by Social Services officials.
Inside, police found clothes strewn about the floor, animal feces on floors and soda bottles filled with urine in hallways and bedrooms. There was rotting food in the refrigerator and the home had no running water, police said.
There also were empty propane gas bottles strewn about the house and the stove did not appear to be working. The toilet was filled with excrement and the bathtub in the house had murky brown water, police said.
The conditions could "only be described as squalor," Griffiths said.
The children, ages 2 to 13, were placed in the custody of Child Protective Services; four were in one foster home and three were in another by Friday afternoon, authorities said. Fourteen cats and two dogs also were removed from the home, authorities said.
Richard Hall, 61, his three daughters, Bernadette, 36, April, 27, and Krystal Hall, 21, and a son, Eamon Hall, 23, were arrested on seven counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Police said the three women were the mothers of the children.
Arraignment was set Friday in First District Court in Central Islip. Authorities did not immediately have information on whether the Halls were represented by an attorney. The telephone at their home had been disconnected.
Overgrown grass, a trash can overflowing with empty cat food cans and religious statues surrounded the one-story home several blocks from the bay Friday. Flies swarmed the multicolored home. Broken toys and other garbage littered a side deck.
"It's despicable. People should not have to live like this," said Robert DeBona, a property owners' association president who lives a few blocks away. "Children should be treated with kindness."
Griffiths said Social Services had received a complaint from the school where some of the children are students, expressing concerns about the children's hygiene. After the arrests, the building inspector in the town of Brookhaven condemned the house.