Child removed from cold, filthy Pa. home

February 6, 2009 3:44:20 PM PST
A little boy is discovered living in a cold, filthy house in Berks County.Sheriff's deputies came to a house in the 300 block of Chapel Terrace in Reading on Wednesday looking for a fugitive.

They were hit with a horrible stench when they went inside, and that was just the beginning.

There, amid the filth and animal waste, sat a 6-year-old boy, huddled in front of a small space heater.

There was no heat or water in the house.

In fact, it was so cold, they found a fish tank that had frozen solid.

"It was obviously cold, dirty. It was really bad. It was not fit for a human to live in," said Sheriff Eric Weaknecht of Berks County.

The deputies found the fugitive they were looking for, Robert Oxenreider, hiding in a closet.

They arrested him, and his girlfriend Tara Williams. The boy is her son.

Both Williams and Oxenreider are charged with endangering the welfare of a child.

The sheriff says Oxendreider told them he tore all the plumbing and radiators out of the house to sell it for scrap.

The ceiling was torn apart where he ripped out the pipes.

In the kitchen, debris was piled high, and waste from dogs and cats covered the floor.

Neighbors say they hadn't seen the boy in over a month.

"They didn't even do anything to help the kid. It's rotten that you have people like that out here," said neighbor John Arthur.

The boy has been placed in foster care.

The sheriff says the child got upset when they unplugged the space heater before taking him out. He was dressed in a t-shirt and pants, no shoes. Deputies couldn't even find clothes for him that weren't damp or dirty.

He says it's one of the most heartbreaking cases the department has ever seen.

"I just don't understand how people can do it," said Sheriff Weaknecht.

The sheriff doesn't know what will eventually become of the boy.

He at least knows that, tonight, he's in a much better place.

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