A Ceres couple was arrested last week in yet another disturbing case of children being neglected and living in hunger and deplorable conditions of squalor.
Two girls, one 18 months old and the other 6, were removed from the home in the 2600 block of Roeding Road.
A domestic disturbance reported at 8:35 a.m. on Tuesday, March 15 touched off the discovery of the living conditions. Officers investigated and learned that Jesus Chavez, 41, reported being in an argument with his wife Analisha Melendrez, 37. Jesus told the officer he was trying to leave the house when Analisha Melendrez "touched" him on the arm with a baseball bat. Mr. Chavez asked the officer to standby while he gathered his things to leave.
As the officer tried to mediate the constant bickering, an 18-month-old girl walked up to an officer holding a non-locking prescription bottle of Loratadine. The bottle contained 20 tablets. The officer said the parents were so busy arguing that they didn't notice the child trying to open the bottle.
The officer removed the bottle from the child and asked about the condition of the girls. Both appeared to be unbathed and police determined the house did not have any running water for two months. An officer inspected the home and found cockroaches throughout. The floors were soiled with rotten food, dirt and debris built up from lack of cleaning. Large pieces of furniture were stacked on top of each other and dressers had unsecured items on top of them that could easily fall on a child. Moldy food too unsafe to eat was found in the kitchen and the sink was coated in what appeared to be vomit.
Inside the girls' room police found a crib filled with dirty clothing and items that posed suffocation threats. The room was also heavily soiled with dirty clothing and random items. The toilet was full of feces.
Other unsafe living conditions included a wall heater unsecured from the wall in the living room, a 220-volt electrical outlet dangling six inches from the ground, exposed wires on the exterior of the house, and a driveway filled with debris, chemicals and building materials.
The girls appeared to be hungry. The six-year-old told an officer she had not eaten since breakfast the day before. Officers received crackers from neighbors who heard about the condition of the girls.
A Ceres female officer transported the girls to the Police Department to change the baby who was wearing a soiled diaper and allow the oldest to use the bathroom. The baby was found to be suffering from a severe diaper rash.
Both girls were turned over to Child Protective Services.
Chavez and Melendriz voluntarily submitted to undergo a urine drug test and both tested positive for methamphetamine. They were arrested and charged for child neglect and child endangerment. Melendriz was additionally charged with violation of probation.
This was the second time in two months that Ceres Police removed children living in deplorable conditions. On Feb. 2 police discovered seven children living in filthy and unsafe conditions in the 1900 block of Darrah Street. Arrested in that case were Amy Luna, 24, of Ceres, and Jose Garcia, 25, and his girlfriend Suzanne Luna, 26.