Friday, January 11, 2008

Parents accused of exposing tots to meth

Two parents are accused of exposing their three small children methamphetamines.

Melody Lorraine Whatley
The children are spending their nights in foster care. Their parents spent the night in jail. They lived in a place where trash and broken toys are scattered in the yard. A place, difficult to keep warm because of all the broken windows. Their mobile home, a few miles west of Florence, was described by investigators as unfit for children; filled with a stench of garbage and filth.
Failing to keep a clean house is not why Melody Lorraine Whatley and Michael Joseph Denson were arrested. Investigators say they exposed their children to meth. It is a criminal case that's raising a lot of questions in Florence.
"It is a really small town, it is not expected. Usually people complain about big cities and things like that being in danger, but it just comes to show that it can happen just about anywhere, so it is really shocking," said Toni Avila, who helps her parents at a jewelry shop on Main St. in Florence.
The children were found after deputies responded to a disturbance call November 28. Denson was described as being out of control. He was taken to Georgetown Hospital and treated for a drug overdose. Child endangerment charges followed after the test results came back for the children.
"No, no, I can’t imagine anybody doing that to their own children," said James Cowdrey.
The youngest child had her first birthday in October. The oldest, is 3.
"Very upsetting, very, I don’t want my kids growing up around that. This is a safe town," said Fathom Standridge who is expecting her first child this spring.
On January 3, a hearing will be held to update the custody status. Residents like Tammy Reid wonder if the children should ever be returned to the parents
"I think if CPS will do their job, and really supervise and see that they get the counseling, those kids could be with their parents, but if they are going to mistreat them like that -- no, I don't think so," Reid said.
The children remain under the care of a doctor. There appears to be no long term damage to their health
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