An Oklahoma couple and three grandparents stand accused in a child neglect case that is among the worst that local law enforcement officials have ever seen.
Aislyn Miller, 24, and Kevin Fowler, 25, were arrested in December on five counts each of child neglect, reports the Daily Mail.
The parents were taken into custody after their 9-month-old twins were hospitalized for severe malnourishment. The twin girls together reportedly had the weight of only one healthy baby, and also were afflicted with severe diaper rash and infected wounds. Owasso police were first alerted by the city’s urgent care center, which reported suspected abuse based on the children’s condition.
A nurse there said maggots were present in one of the infant’s genitals, reports KJRH. Feces were found in one of the child’s ears. Miller blamed the condition of her children on lack of parental experience. She also told police that she didn’t have health insurance and, therefore, neither child had been to a doctor since birth, reports Tulsa World.
Three of the children’s grandparents — Rita Fowler, 65, Johnny Miller, 47, and Cathey Miller, 54 — were later arrested and charged with permitting child neglect, a felony, and failing to report child neglect, a misdemeanor.
In mid-December, the twin girls and their two older siblings were reportedly removed from their parents’ house and placed in the custody of the Department of Human Services.
During March 20 preliminary hearing, DHS investigator Kristi Simpson described the babies’ condition when hospitalized as “shocking and heinous.”
Dr. Michael Baxter testified before the Tulsa County District Court that the children were severely underweight for their ages, and also suffered from stunted development. A police detective testified that the maternal grandmother, Rita Fowler, had seen the children a month before their hospitalization and should have known they needed medical help but failed to act, citing that as the reason for her arrest.
Rita’s attorney argued to the contrary and said that there was no evidence that she had willfully ignored her granddaughters’ condition. Aislyn, Kevin, and Rita are due back in court on March 28 for arraignment.
Grandparents Johnny and Cathey are scheduled to go before a judge on March 29 for their preliminary hearing.
The Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines neglect as “the failure of a parent or other person with responsibility for the child to provide needed food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision to the degree that the child’s health, safety, and well-being are threatened with harm.”
The agency also provides the most recent statistics: “More than 538,000 children were neglected in 2010, accounting for about 78 percent of all unique victims of child maltreatment. In addition, neglect was either the sole cause or one of the contributors to over 68 percent of the 1,560 child maltreatment-related deaths in 2010.”