Robert M. Fortin, 34, and Crystal M. Fortin, 33, both of 900 Tranbarger Drive, lot 16, Kingsport.
KINGSPORT — A Kingsport couple were arrested after a child was found living in their home with paper stuffed into each ear, allegedly telling an officer he did so to “keep the bugs out.”
When one suspect was asked why the residence was in such a foul state — allegedly including feces on the floor and an infestation of insects — he reportedly said he couldn’t clean because he has a job.
Robert M. Fortin, 34, and Crystal M. Fortin, 33, both of 900 Tranbarger Drive, lot 16, were arrested Tuesday evening. They were each charged with one count of child abuse and neglect after police responded to a disturbance but instead found the allegedly squalid living conditions.
Kingsport court records do not include the age of the juvenile or specify his relationship to the suspects.
According to an affidavit, a Kingsport police officer was dispatched to the Fortins’ home at approximately 10:25 p.m. They found Crystal Fortin was not present. Her husband, Robert Fortin, told police she had walked from the scene after hitting herself “in the face and head several times.” According to his statements to police, his wife has a mental disorder, which was not specified.
Robert Fortin allegedly allowed the officer to enter the mobile home to make sure Crystal Fortin wasn’t there. That’s when “several cats and dogs” were allegedly observed “wandering around inside.”
Police said they also found a male child sitting on the living room couch, a wad of paper stuffed into each ear.
“I asked him why he did this,” according to the officer’s report, “and he replied, ‘To keep the bugs out.’”
The residence reportedly had a strong odor of urine and feces, with the latter observed scattered along the floor. Roaches and other insects were allegedly observed throughout the home, scurrying along walls, over tables and in the kitchen sink.
According to police, when Robert Fortin was asked why he didn’t clean the home, he said because he “has a job.”
Police said that due to intentionally keeping the child in an environment adverse to his health, Robert Fortin was arrested and transported to the city jail. The officer made a referral to the Department of Children’s Services in regard to the incident, with Robert Fortin’s father responding to take custody of the child.
Approximately an hour later, Crystal Fortin was located and arrested, also charged with child abuse and neglect. A police report noted both had been drinking prior to their arrests.