DULUTH — A 2-year-old boy, strapped into an unpadded car seat, left alone to scoot around the house using his feet. Diaper rash so bad it had produced open sores.
His sister, 1, unattended in a cardboard-bottomed playpen. Both “soaked in urine” and wearing “very soiled diapers,” famished.
Cockroaches and a bottle of bleach on the floor by the refrigerator.
Called there by a concerned neighbor, Gwinnett County police said they found that scene at 2641 Inverloch Circle, a simple two-story home on an aging residential street near Duluth’s stretch of Buford Highway. Their alleged findings led to three arrests and the children being taken into government custody.
According to a police incident report, officers responded to the home at about 10 p.m. Friday, letting themselves in through the unlocked front door when no one answered. There they found the boy, lying on his back in the car seat, and his sister in a “dirty,” “disheveled” and dark living room.
Police eventually made contact with Felicia Eckert, the custody-bearing grandmother of the children. She reportedly said she was in McDonough, some 45 minutes away, and that her son, Nicholas George, was supposed to be watching the kids. George, 19, was later found next door — he allegedly admitted he hadn’t been in the home for more than three hours.
“My mom leaves them there a lot and asks me to check on them,” he told police, according to the incident report.
Eckert arrived at the scene by 11 p.m. When asked about the toddler in the car seat, she reportedly said that it was “for his own good.”
“Well, I (put him) in that when I have to go upstairs, for a nap, or when I have to go to the bathroom because if I do not, he will play with the stove or get into something else,” she told police. She denied telling her son to merely check on the children from time to time.
Officers soon learned that a third child was with Edward Allen Prince, Eckert’s boyfriend, and that Prince allegedly knew the other kids were left home alone.
All three children were taken by the Division of Family and Children Services.
Eckert was arrested and charged with two counts of cruelty to children, false statements, reckless conduct, and three counts of contributing to the deprivation of a child, as well as drug charges. Police said they found marijuana in her bedroom.
George was arrested and charged with two counts of cruelty to children, reckless conduct and three counts of contributing to the deprivation of a child. He also had outstanding warrants in Hall County, police said.
Prince was also arrested, charged with two counts of cruelty to children, reckless conduct and drug charges.
According to online records, all three suspects are being held at the Gwinnett County jail without bond.