When Ethan Patrick Williams fell off his bicycle in July, no one would have called the cuts and scrapes on his legs serious injuries. Four weeks later the boy, 4, died from an infection. Police say the boy had been living in filthy conditions, and they believe that squalor might have played a role in his death.
Because the police think that the squalor might have played a role, they did the only sensible thing: broke up a grieving family:
Ethan’s mother, Emily A. Altom, 25, and his stepfather, Michael D. Altom, 25, were charged Tuesday with voluntary manslaughter and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child. They were released Wednesday from the Perry County Jail on $15,000 bonds.
But let’s get to the squalor:
In a sworn affidavit, Cpl. Jason D. Kelley of the Perry County Sheriff’s Department described the Altoms’ trailer as unfit for any human dwelling. He described walls and carpeting as soiled and stained and said the floor and kitchen counters were piled high with clothes, broken toys, empty beer cans and rotting food.
He said there “was not enough sleeping space for three children, and no crib for the youngest child.” Kelley said the entire trailer reeked of “a foul offensive odor.”
Friends, that sounds like the Noggle household to a critical eye. As for no sleeping space for the children, am I to assume they never slept then?
I always get a little queasy with stories about child abuse and neglect, particularly as they play out in the papers and in the affadavits. I realize that I Don’t Have Children and Therefore I Cannot Understand (the Sheehanist religion), but building laws to defend the Children which depend upon arbitrary interpretations and impressions of public officials whose livelihoods depend upon prosecution seems like a couple of skips into tyranny. But of course, I don’t have children, so I look at this like a rational man and not a parent.