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BERWYN, Ill. (CBS) – It was an extreme case of animal hoarding. There were hundreds of animals living inside a Berwyn house.
A teenager was found dead there and now, as CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports, for the first time, the family is revealing why they never called for help.
Lydia Price, 47, who’s been charged with neglect in the death of her 14-year-old son, Matthew Degner, was not ready to talk about the charges, but her 77-year-old mother, Barbara, who lived with the family, is sharing their story.
Barbara Price says their lives since the boy’s death have been “horrid.”
“We’ve had not time for grief for Matthew with all the assaults and falsifications,” she said.
She denies that the boy’s body was dragged from the house into the back yard so that police would not go into the house.
“They went into the house anyway,” she says. “That’s stupid. He was taken outside to get oxygen.”
When authorities went inside, they say they found hundreds of animals. In addition to 200 cats, there were kinkajoos, a brown bat, a 150 pound raccoon, a lemur, rats, squirrels and dogs. They say there was animal waste throughout the house and that the five children living there were caked with filth and feces.
Barbara Price says her daughter’s husband began bringing the creatures into the house after picking them up at swap meets. Once he went to prison, she says the family could not afford to take care of them or clean the place up.
She denies the place was unhealthy. “I came from Minneapolis Minnesota many years ago, from a hog farm” she says. “I know what filth is. If we lived here all these years, how come suddenly its deadly? Shouldn’t we have died long ago?”
Her grandson Matthew did die in the house, a victim of bronchial pneumonia.
His four young siblings are now in the custody of DCFS.
Lydia Price, their mother, is due for another court hearing on Thursday.