Children removed from 'deplorable' South Phila. home

March 3, 2012 2:26:48 AM PST
A South Philadelphia mother has been arraigned on charges, after police say she left her two children, home alone in 'deplorable conditions.'

31-year-old Dawn Canterbury is in police custody on child endangerment charges and narcotics violations.

Only Action News was on the scene moments after police discovered Canterbury's children - a 3-year old girl and a 1-year old boy - inside her rented second floor apartment on the 100 block of Snyder Avenue.

Officers say they spotted rats as they picked up the children. Others said the conditions inside the home would bring tears to your eyes. "It's filthy. There's dirt all throughout the house. There's not one clean speck. From floor to ceiling there are signs of insect and rodent infestations," said Lieutenant Anthony McFadden.

Police say Canterbury was the passenger in a car that was pulled over about 11 blocks away from her apartment. They started to take her into custody after discovering she was wanted on fraud charges in Lansdale, Montgomery County.

Police say she was also found carrying narcotics.

Canterbury asked the driver of the car to check on her children. When she informed authorities they were home alone, police quickly arrived at her apartment where they made the discovery.

Officers arrived to find that the door was unlocked and 'wide open.'

"Thank God they're okay. They are in custody with the Department of Human Services where they are being cared for. Its disheartening to find out these kids were living like this on a daily basis," said Lt. McFadden.

Late Friday afternoon, police left Canterbury's apartment with bags of evidence and a computer hard drive. Officials tell Action News they are very concerned about a photo found on her Facebook page that they believe shows her 3-year-old daughter holding a gun.

While an investigation is ongoing, officials say Canterbury is no stranger to the Department of Human Services.

"DHS does have a record of the children," said Lt. McFadden.

Canterbury allegedly hadn't paid rent since May and frustrated neighbors say she often had numerous visitors at all hours of the night.

They also say, instead of placing trash at the curb, someone in the apartment would just pitch trash, including dirty diapers and cigarettes, onto the sidewalk from the second story landing.