Parents, six children found squatting in 'deplorable' condition - News, Weather & Sports

Parents, six children found squatting in 'deplorable' conditions

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Christopher Strickland (Source: LMDC) Christopher Strickland (Source: LMDC)
Debra Combs (Source: LMDC) Debra Combs (Source: LMDC)
Nina Moseley Nina Moseley
LMPD spokesperson Carey Klain LMPD spokesperson Carey Klain

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The mother and stepfather of six children are in jail tonight after police found the family living in an abandoned home.

Debra Combs, 32, and Christopher Strickland, 33, are charged with several charges of wanton endangerment and Strickland is facing charges for breaking into the home after neighbors reported them Tuesday night.

When an officer got to the home in the 1800 block of Bank Street he found Combs and Strickland with their six kids ages 4 to 11 asleep on the floor in what police describe as deplorable conditions. "They were just filthy," said LMPD spokesperson Carey Klain. "There was trash the facilities they were using for the restrooms were just bowls on the ground. It just hadn't been cleaned."

Court records show Combs was evicted from her last residence in February 2013. Neighbors said the family started squatting around early June.

The officer who found the family knew Combs and gave her information and contacts for shelters in the past. "That's what's even more upsetting in this case is that knowing that there's options out there she's chosen to have her children in these conditions with no running water, no air conditioning, and living and sleeping next to filth," said Klain.

In Louisville, the issue of homeless families is a serious one. While the city saw a reduction in street homeless and offers a lot of programs for veterans the number of homeless children are in the thousands. "Last year, around 11,000 homeless children were in our public schools, school aged children so that doesn't count infants. You can see the severity of the issue for families in Louisville," said COO of Wayside Christian Mission Nina Moseley.

Finding a place for a family of eight can be difficult, but Moseley agrees there are options. Wayside offers rooms for families transitioning out of emergency shelters. The Coalition for the Homeless said St. Vincent DePaul and Salvation Army also have beds for families. Of course it's up to the family to find those beds and getting work to get something permanent. "The shelter beds are full every night. There's not much affordable housing for people who do have some low paying jobs," explained Moseley.

According to police, Combs and Strickland chose not to take that option which is why they are in jail. The kids were taken to the Home of the Innocents. Police said the 4-year-old was checked out by EMS, but all appear to be in good health.

Combs does not have a criminal record in Kentucky, but Strickland did serve time for murder in 1998. He pleaded guilty to helping his stepfather kill his mother.

Both are scheduled to go before a judge Wednesday morning.

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