BENNINGTON — Two people are facing charges alleging they kept a 2-year-old child living in squalid conditions.
Timothy J. Susee, and Karen Mattison, both 25, of Pownal, pleaded not guilty Monday in Vermont Superior Court to one misdemeanor count each of cruelty to a child under 10 years old. They were released under conditions, among them they not contact the child outside the constraints of a Department for Children and Families care plan.
According to an affidavit by Vermont State Trooper Alexander Saxby, on Jan. 24 at 6:44 p.m. he and two other troopers were dispatched to a mobile home in Pownal where an anonymous caller had said there was a young child being abused. The caller said the mobile home was full of dog feces, drug paraphernalia, had no heat or running water, and that the child had been burned on a stove and not been treated for the injury.
Saxby said he was met at the door by Susee, who did not want to let police in for fear the dogs inside would bite them. Saxby wrote that he told Susee he would use his Taser on the animal if they did in fact bite, but he needed to see the child and the child's living conditions.
Saxby's description of the home's interior was consistent with what the caller described, however there was no mention made by Saxby of any drug paraphernalia. Saxby said there was what appeared to be dried dog feces compacted into the floor, which the child was left standing in when brought out. Susee said it was not feces, but dirt, and the only dog feces in the home was what one of the dogs had left shortly before troopers arrived.
The smell of rotting garbage and food was overwhelming in some parts of the home, wrote Saxby, describing one area as looking like "a grenade had gone off."
Saxby wrote that he asked Susee where the child's food was. He told them the refrigerator, then the bedroom, then finally said it was his mother's house about a mile away.
Police inspected the home and wrote that it appeared to have no running water, that the toilet was dry, and the bathtub filled with debris. Susee said the place normally has water, but the pipes had frozen.
Police also said the air inside the home was barely warmer than outside.
According to Saxby, while the child was being placed in his cruiser, he detected the faint odor of urine. The child was checked for injuries and appeared to have a healed over burn on his torso. Susee told police this was from the stove, and that the child had been treated for it after it happened.