Three more from Mo. home with hundreds of animals charged with child endangerment

Saturday, August 23, 2008

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Three more people have been charged with child endangerment after the discovery of six children living amid hundreds of animals on a southwest Missouri property.

Kevin Guthrie, 32, and his wife Julia, 37, both of Springfield, and Janet Hall, 35, of Pleasant Hope, were charged with two felony counts of child endangerment each Wednesday for allegedly living in a filthy environment with the children and animals.

More than 360 animals, including dogs and goldfish, were taken last week from an 80-acre property near Pleasant Hope in Polk County where they lived in filthy conditions with inadequate food, water and shelter, according to the Humane Society of Missouri.

The Humane Society said Friday that two of the severely malnourished dogs have died. No charges have been filed in connection with the seizure of the animals, according to the Polk County Circuit Court clerk's office.

The Humane Society and Polk County deputies took the animals from the property on Aug. 12. The children were removed from the property at the end of July.

The new charges rely on a probable-cause statement that resulted in the earlier arrest of Virginia Gambriel, 61, who is charged with two counts of felony child endangerment over the living conditions of two of Hall's children who were in Gambriel's legal custody. Gambriel is the children's grandmother.

Hall had custody of her other two children -- 9-year-old twins -- but left them with Gambriel to baby-sit. Hall's charges relate to the twins.

The charges against the Guthries relate to their two children -- a 2-year-old and a 10-month-old.

The new charges provided new information on the children's living conditions. A deputy wrote in a probable-cause statement that he observed the children "confined to an area ... similar to a dog kennel to have a place to go to get away from the animals."

According to the probable-cause statement, roaches, fleas and other bugs were crawling on the ground. The children appeared to be covered in flea bites and seemed to be infested with scabies and ringworm, the deputy wrote.

The trailer where the Guthries lived with their children contained a large amount of dirty clothing, debris and animal feces.

The Children's Division of the Department of Social Services would not comment on the whereabouts of the children.

The Guthries and Hall bonded out of the Polk County Jail, according to the sheriff's department. None of them could be reached for comment Friday.

Arraignment dates have not been set for the parents. Gambriel's arraignment is set for Sept. 3.

A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 2 to determine animal custody.

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