The driver was out delivering packages when he needed to get a signature at an apartment in New York. He knocked on the door, and a tiny child answered the door. When the driver asked for the boy’s parents, they were nowhere to be found. He also saw a hint of the disgusting conditions behind the door.
At just five years old, the child was deemed responsible enough by his parents to be left home alone. He is the youngest of four children. His siblings are 12, 13 and 15.
Because all of the other children are school-aged, the youngest was left home alone. He was there as both his parents worked.
When the driver realized that this young boy was left to fend for himself, he took care to get the attention of a local police officer for help. Neighbors heard the police talking to the child in the hallway, and he shared he had not seen either one of his parents since the night before.
Beyond the fact that the child was left all alone, the conditions inside the apartment were disturbing at best. This was not a case of well-meaning parents just not knowing the child should be left alone.
The apartment was filled with everything but the items the child needed to survive. There was no food for the child to eat.
Instead of being stocked with the items that family needs, the apartment was overflowing with animals, insects, garbage, and feces.
Social workers on the scene shared the smell inside the apartment was enough to make anyone sick. The neighbors shared they saw very little of the adults in the home and had only a small idea that the apartment was not always clean.
The insect infestation was not the only thing living in the apartment. The child was also surrounded by swarms of rats and bed bugs.
Both parents were at work as their youngest child was left at home on his own.
The mother, Charlotte Lewis, was arrested as she worked as a nurse. She was on her shift at the Montefiore Medical Center.
The father, Wilfred Lewis, turned himself in at the 50th Precinct in the Bronx. Dad works as an adjunct professor at TCI College of Technology and for the MTA.
The parents were arrested last Friday and are both currently being held on a $15,000 bond. They are both charged with four counts of “…endangering the welfare of a child and failure to exercise control of a minor.”
The pair went in front of a judge for the first time at the start of this week. Neither of the parents would make eye contact with anyone in the court as they listened to the state explain to the judge the extreme neglect that plaques this case.
The prosecutor shared that this was by far one of the worst cases of neglect and abuse they had seen. A report from the responding police officers shared there also signs of physical violence in the home as the walls were bloodstained.
Beyond the smell in the apartment and the combination of rodents, bugs, and garbage, the young child was also covered in bugs.
With this extreme amount of neglect, it is not clear how no one ever noticed. The older children were also covered in bugs. One could assume this was pretty easy for teachers or school staff to notice.
We may never know who else knew about the abuse in the home. The neighbors reported knowing about things not being clean but did not seem to know how bad it was.
The parents remain in jail. The Administration for Children’s Services is the local agency that hands complaints of abuse. They are working with local police to investigate the matter.
They have not released information about where the children are currently or if they are seeking to take the children away from the parents. The child abuse within the household was well hidden from neighbors.
The FedEx driver will not soon forget the day he found the abused child living in this horrible household. It was even more shocking to find out there were a total of four kids being abused in this case.