CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Charleston man and woman are charged with felony child neglect after police say they kept four of their young daughters locked in rooms and fed them sparingly for the last six months.
Police say Thomas and Ruby Freeman for the last six months kept four of their young daughters locked in rooms at this apartment in South Park Village. Both are charged with felony child neglect.
Thomas Michael Freeman, 33, and Ruby Anne Freeman, 29, of 675 South Park Rd., Apt. C, are both being held in the South Central Regional Jail on $5,000 bond each.
Child Protective Services called Charleston police about 3:45 p.m. Tuesday to help take custody of the children, whose ages range from newborn to 6 years old.
Thomas Freeman told Patrolman J.D. Matheny he and his wife had been locking the four oldest daughters in their rooms and feeding them only once a day for the last six months
, according to a criminal complaint.
Matheny said the apartment was filthy with bags of rotten trash strewn all over. Diapers were piled up in both the upstairs and downstairs bathrooms of the apartment
, Matheny said.
In one of the rooms where the girls were allegedly imprisoned, Matheny said he saw a bucket that was used as a toilet. All the girls were soaked in urine and "could not remember the last time they had eaten
," Matheny wrote in the complaint.
All the girls' heads were shaved because they had been infested with lice
, Matheny said.
"If you need help and you can't take care of your own children, pick up the phone and call," James said.
The detective was at a loss as to what could possibly occupy the Freemans' time to the point that they had to keep their children locked up.
"It borders on mental illness," James said.
Thomas Freeman works at a local grocery store, James said. Ruby Freeman does not work, as far as James knows.
All the children are in a grandmother's custody until a later hearing to determine if they should be in the state's custody, James said.
James commented that the bonds set in this case by Magistrate Tim Halloran -- while probably out of reach for the couple -- should have been higher.
If the couple can come up with $1,000, they could get out of jail because of a 10 percent cash option.
"In cases like this, I think a high bond needs to be set just to send a message," James said.
If convicted, the Freemans each face a possible fine of up to $3,000 and up to five years in prison.
Most residents of the South Park Village public housing development where the Freemans live did not want to talk to the Daily Mail about the arrests this morning.
One couple that lives across the street from the development said they know the Freemans, but didn't know about the alleged neglect until they saw it in news reports.
The couple declined to give their names, but said the family had frequent help from the state on parenting skills and nutritional needs for the children.
The couple said Ruby Freeman walked the oldest children to the school bus everyday. They described Thomas Freeman as a "nice" and "caring" man.