Clockwise from upper left: April Lawson, Lilly Williams, Walter Williams, Phillip Lawson
Four Kingsport parents have been arrested after police allegedly discovered their seven children — ranging from an infant to 13 years of age — in a home infested by cockroaches, strewn with feces and littered with rotting food.
An officer's affidavit characterizes the residence as "unlivable for any human," with its floor "not visible in any part of the home." Flies had reportedly descended upon rotting food. Several dogs and cats were also running free inside, with police at the scene observing one relieve itself in the bathtub.
At approximately 3 p.m. Monday officers responded to a complaint of poor living condition for several children at 1609 Newbern Road. Police interviewed Lilly Williams, 36, who advised she lived at the residence with her husband, Walter Williams, 48.
Court records say Williams then said the home was also occupied by her sister, April Lawson, 22, and husband Phillip D. Lawson, 29. Police report the couples had a combined seven children living at the residence, four of whom were less than 5 years old. One was an infant.
A KPD officer's affidavit states the house was utterly uninhabitable. Roaches were allegedly scurrying along the walls, over dishes and inside cabinets.
Various items of trash — including dirty diapers, cigarettes and ashes — were allegedly throughout the house, covering all of the flooring. None of the beds in the residence had sheets, according to court records, while the mattresses were covered in dirt.
The Department of Childrens Services was called to the scene and ordered the children removed. They were placed into the temporary custody of family and friends, with court records saying DCS would follow up on the incident.
Each of the four parents was arrested, charged with child neglect and booked into the city jail. Charges against April and Phillip Lawson are felony counts, due to the ages of their young children.