Police called it a “flophouse” for drug users.
But it was the three children living at the Cottonwood, Ariz., home — all under 5 years old — that disturbed SWAT team officers who searched the residence early Saturday morning.
Authorities executed the search warrant after a man went to a local emergency room with head injuries from getting “pistol-whipped,” and told police the man who attacked him was staying at the home.
The three children police discovered in the trash-filled residence in the small town south of Flagstaff, Ariz., had rashes, bumps, burns and open sores all over their bodies, police said. They were suffering from scabies and lice. And they were covered in feces.
Sarah Jean Easterday, the children’s 32-year-old mother, was arrested and charged with endangerment, child abuse, neglect or abuse of a minor and possession of drug paraphernalia, police said. Police also said that Easterday was a transient.
The Department of Child Safety removed the children from Easterday’s custody. They were transported to Verde Valley Medical Center to be treated for their injuries.
Conditions in the home itself were “deplorable” as well, police said: There was no running water, and there was only one working outlet, which had several extension cords strung up to it. There was also a noxious smell in the house — a mix of trash, rotting food and feces, police said. Broken glass and debris littered the home.
A photo police shared from inside the home shows an overturned mattress in what appears to be a kitchen. Empty soda bottles and cans, half-filled jugs of water and a pink child’s sippy cut clutter the counter. A window appears to be covered in plastic.
Police also found marijuana and methamphetamine pipes in the home, leading to the drug charges Easterday faces.
Local police said it was “one of the worst cases of neglect some of the officers involved have ever seen,” the Verde Independent reports.
Police said the initial investigation into the pistol-whipping incident, which launched the search in the first place, is complete and has been forwarded to the county attorney’s office.