A Florida man and woman face child-neglect charges after police answered a phone call with wailing children in the background.
But, Boynton Beach police say, the two small children weren’t crying on the call because they hadn’t eaten in a week, though one told an officer they hadn’t. Or because cockroaches crawled through the apartment, though cops reported seeing that.
Through their crying, the kids unleashed pleas of “Wake up!” at unconscious parents Andrew Otto and Lauren James, the arrest report said. Along with Otto and James on the floor, police saw homemade hypodermic needles and plastic bags of white powder they say field tested positive for heroin and fentanyl.
After Boynton Beach Fire Rescue attended the couple, they were taken to a hospital, then to Palm Beach County Jail.
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Otto, 35, and James, 30, each face two counts of child neglect. As of Monday, each remained in county jail on $6,000 bond.
Otto’s past includes a year in prison for grand theft. He also has convictions for cocaine possession, driving with his license suspended and misdemeanor battery.
This is James’ first felony arrest. Last month, she pleaded not guilty to speeding, driving a vehicle with an expired registration and driving with a suspended license.
The latest drama began with a Friday afternoon call to Boynton Beach police dispatch from a man claiming to be overdosing, according to the arrest report. While they had the man’s phone number, he couldn’t tell the dispatcher anything else, including his name.
“Dispatch could hear the male’s heavy breathing and could hear a child in the background saying, ‘Wake up!’” the arrest report read.
The first officer to the apartment couldn’t get anyone to answer the door, but heard “small children inside the residence screaming, ‘Wake up!’ It also appeared that the children were hysterically crying.”
On the other side of an unlocked front door, the officer found the couple unconscious on the floor of the bedroom.
“The apartment was in disarray and filthy,” the report read. “There were cockroaches alive and dead throughout the apartment. Officer Malley advised that one of the children said he hasn’t eaten in several days. There was almost no food in the residence and the water had been shut off. Both (children) were dirty and appeared not to have bathed in several days.”
The kids were taken to the police station were they were fed. Department of Children and Families took custody of the children later.