NAMPA, Idaho — An Idaho couple faces a number of injury to child charges after police said they found children living in a house infested with thousands of cockroaches and hundreds of spiders.
Officers were dispatched to a home in the 400 block of North Bailey Avenue in Nampa, Idaho late Thursday afternoon, Aug. 15 for a welfare check. A reporting party told police she had received second-hand information that the house could be infested with cockroaches.
According to reports, as two officers approached the house, they could “smell a very pungent or odor of urine emitting from the residence… and (when) looking in the front window, (saw) cockroaches crawling on the sofa.”
A resident -– later identified as Eugene Bergener, 50 -– allowed officers to enter and search the house.
“There were cobwebs on every corner and every wall, between the wall and ceiling,” Officer Matt Richardson wrote in his report. “In the kitchen, there were dead cockroaches all over the floor…on the counters and on half-eaten food on the counter. There was a black pan that had dead cockroaches in it. There were dirty dishes that had cockroaches crawling all over them.”
A nearby table “ …had stuff stacked on it, almost six feet high. Some of the stuff, I could not even see over, and I am 6’6” tall,” Richardson wrote. “As I continued, there was approximately 100 cigarette butts piled on the table. There were also open boxes of cereal that had cockroaches crawling all over (them).” In the laundry room, officers said they found dirty laundry was stacked about two feet high, also infested with the insects.
“There was not a single wall in this house that did not have cockroaches…and spider webs attached to the ceiling. As I walked into the master bedroom, there were dead cockroaches all over the floor,” the officer said.
In the bathroom, police said they found more cockroaches all over the floor, the tub, on the counter, and in each drawer, where children’s medication was stored.
“In my years of law enforcement experience, I have never seen a house (infested) to this extent. The house is unlivable for children, let alone any person,” Richardson stated. “The amount of cockroaches in the house has to be into the thousands, and possibly hundreds of spiders inside the residence, feasting on the cockroaches. In one corner of the living room, there were cockroaches lined all the way from the floor to the ceiling, and spiderwebs. While Officer Burgoyne and myself were standing inside the residence, cockroaches were falling on our heads.”
Bergener told officers he sleeps on the couch, and the female resident — later identified as Moranda Young, 32 — sleeps in the master bedroom with four children. Officers learned the woman “…sleeps on the bed with the three youngest, and the oldest…sleeps on the floor with the cockroaches,” Richardson wrote in his report. “The master bedroom bed (had) dead cockroaches all over it. There were also live cockroaches crawling around in the master bedroom…”
A urine odor also permeated the house, according to the investigators.
“The odor in the residence was so strong, it was burning my nose. It smelled of urine, and there were pets inside the residence as well,” the officer added.
Police later located Young at another address, who stated that the landlord had recently “bug-bombed” the home in an effort to get rid of the cockroach infestation.
According to Nampa Police Department spokesman Gary Marang, the four children who were also living in the home — girls ages 1, 3, 4, and 13 — are in the temporary care of Idaho Health and Welfare Department officials. It was not immediately clear how the children are related to the couple.
Bergener and Young were each charged with four misdemeanor counts of injury to a child and were booked into the Canyon County Jail. Both pleaded not guilty.
Bergener was also incarcerated on a probation violation for a previous crime. His pre-trial conference was set for Sept 16, according to Canyon County spokesman Joe Decker.
A judge ordered Young to not have any contact with the children. She has a pre-trial conference scheduled for Oct. 28, Decker said.