Arizona mom arrested after kids found living in ‘flop house’ for drug users
PHOENIX — A woman was arrested in a central Arizona town for allegedly neglecting her three children.
The officers involved said it was one of the worst cases of neglect they had ever seen.
According to the Cottonwood Police Department, 32-year-old Sarah Jean Easterday was arrested on Saturday and charged with several felonies, including endangerment, child abuse, neglect or abuse of a minor and possession of drug paraphernalia.
The drug paraphernalia charge was brought on after members of the Verde Valley Regional SWAT Team allegedly found marijuana and methamphetamine pipes in Easterday’s possession.
“We see cases like this more frequently when there was a methamphetamine epidemic, and it seems there is a surge of that again,” Cottonwood police Sgt. Monica Kuhlt said.
The abandoned residence where Easterday was arrested was described as a “flop house” for drug users, according to officers on scene.
The home did not have running water or electricity, outside of one outlet with multiple extension cords attached. The home was also “noxiously pungent” due to the trash, debris, broken glass, rotting food and feces found throughout.
Easterday’s three children, all whom were under the age of 5, were found living in the home. They were found with rashes, bumps, lice, burns, open sores, scabies and were covered in feces.
Easterday told police that she believed authorities were harassing her because she’s poor. She said the children’s clothes weren’t clean because the house had no running water to wash them, according to a probable cause statement. It also had one working electrical outlet, with several extension cords plugged in, police said.
Easterday wrote in court documents that she worked cleaning houses, lived at the house for a month and was trying to escape an abusive situation. She denied owning the meth pipe. On the top of her release questionnaire, she wrote in parentheses “please help us.”
The children were taken to Verde Valley Medical Center for treatment, evaluation and hygiene, the department said. They are no longer under Easterday’s custody.
Officers were first made aware of the home after a person sought medical treatment last Friday due to head injuries from being “pistol whipped” at the residence.
Easterday remained jailed on a $50,000 bond and had a court appearance scheduled Thursday in Verde Valley Justice Court.
She’s been appointed an attorney, but the Yavapai County Public Defender’s Office said no one specifically had been named yet. A brother listed on court documents declined to comment Wednesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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