Child living in squalid conditions; mother, sister charged

Published 11:15 am Monday, February 8, 2016

By Shavonne Walker

shavonne.walker@salisburypost.com

Two Rowan women face charges after authorities say they found a 5-year-old living with them in squalid conditions.

A social worker on a house visit, accompanied by a deputy, discovered trash, cockroaches and human waste in the home the child shared with his mother and older sister.

The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office charged Tasha Miller Russ, 40, of the 500 block of Tony’s Lane, with misdemeanor child abuse. Her daughter, Cassidy Leigh Russ, 18, was charged with misdemeanor child abuse and misdemeanor resist, obstruct, delay an officer.

Each woman was issued a $500 secured bond, and both have since been released from the Rowan County jail.

On Thursday, a social worker with the Rowan County Department of Social Services went to the house to complete a home safety survey at the Russ home. The mother made an appointment with the social worker, but failed to show, a report said.

The social worker said she believed someone was home, but no one would come to the door, and she was concerned for the safety of the child who might have been inside.

The social worker had received a report that the child was not being taken care of, said Capt. John Sifford. A sheriff’s deputy went with the social worker to the house.

When the deputy knocked on the door, he heard a child’s voice, but no one came to the door. The deputy walked to the side of the house to see if he could find an unlocked door or window. He could see a large amount of trash through a window.

The deputy said in his report he could see inside the home and the “conditions inside were less than desirable,” Sifford said.

The social worker was able to get the mother, Tasha Russ, on the phone. Russ said her daughter, Cassidy, was inside the home and that she’d call to tell her to go to the door. Cassidy opened the door and initially told the deputy she was the only one home. As she was talking to the deputy in the doorway, an unclothed little boy walked to the door.

The deputy remarked that the conditions were “not acceptable for a child to be residing in,” and Cassidy agreed, he said in his report.

She gave the deputy consent to search the home. The deputy found garbage, rotting food, dirty diapers and vomit on the floor ,as well as some other unidentified substances. The kitchen sink was clogged with garbage and other food, and there was no edible food inside the refrigerator, the report said.

There were also cockroaches throughout the home, and the home had a bad odor, the deputy said in his report. He also said there was no running water in the house.

The deputy took pictures of the home, and DSS removed the child.

DSS was working to place the child with other family, Sifford said.

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