YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A husband and wife are now in the Mahoning County Jail, charged in what an assistant prosecutor called one of the worst cases of child endangering and abuse she has ever seen.
Bambi Shiley and Ronald Higham appeared in court Tuesday morning after being indicted on child endangering charges in February.
Police were first called to the couple’s house on Fifth Street in Struthers last May to check on their three children, who were between the ages of 11 and 14. Prosecutors say there had been complaints from the school regarding the conditions of the children and their attendance.
Police said the oldest child has serious health issues that force him to wear a diaper. According to police, detectives arrived at the house to find deplorable conditions, with trash, feces and soiled diapers covering the floor of the home.
“For you to be raising three children in a home… Feces is just smeared, I mean, it’s in the kitchen. It’s everywhere. Any one of these children could have contracted a very serious illness from these conditions, at any point,” said Mahoning County Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer McLaughlin.
The oldest child required medical treatment and had to be transferred to a burn unit at Akron Children’s Hospital due to his injuries, according to McLaughlin.
He had not seen a doctor since November of 2014, leading to a break down of his skin that required special surgery, as well as open sores and rectal bleeding, according to a police report. Police said a doctor confirmed that the injuries were a result of neglect and a lack of medical care.
Shiley told police that the child refused to let her bathe him, because he believed water is “going to kill him.”
In addition to the child endangering charges, prosecutors said Higham is a convicted sex offender but failed to register his Girard address with authorities after the couple moved out of the Struthers home.
The trial for both is set for April 11. Bond has been set for Shiley at $30,000 and for Higham at $50,000.
The children are now in the custody of Children Services.