Mom sentenced after boy found selling teddy bear for food

FRANKLIN, Ohio (WPVI) -- A boy in Franklin, Ohio, was spotted by a police officer trying to sell his teddy bear to buy food in front of a drug store. The 7-year-old told the officer he hadn't eaten for several days.

Officer Steve Dunham took the child to a nearby Subway to get something to eat, then took him back to the Franklin Police Department.

Officers then went to his home.

Inside they said they found other children living in squalor. Officers reported rotting food, cockroaches, strewn clothing and a nauseating smell throughout the home. Michael and Tammi Bethel were charged, and all the siblings were taken from the home. The children have been staying with other relatives.

The boy's mother was hospitalized after she was sentenced to spend about a year in prison on Friday.

Michael and Tammi Bethel each pleaded guilty to two counts of child endangering. Tammi Bethel was sentenced to serve 180 days in jail for each count.

Tammi Bethel told deputies she felt ill and asked for her handcuffs to be taken off right after Friday's hearing. Paramedics responded and took her to a hospital.

WLWT reports that Michael Bethel was also expected to be sentenced Friday, but was hospitalized.

In court, Tammi Bethel bargained with the judge in hopes of keeping her kids.

"I love my kids and I will do anything that I have to do, if that means sitting in jail for a year or six months or however long, I will do it to make sure I get my kids back," said Bethel.

Judge Rupert Ruppert responded, "You claim that you love your children. I don't doubt that you love them, but you have a very strange way of showing it in the way you are providing care for them."
Copyright © 2019 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.