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Animal-Hoarding Mom Hit With New Abuse And Neglect Charges

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Lydia Price (Cook County Sheriff's Department)

Lydia Price (Cook County Sheriff’s Department)

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MAYWOOD, Ill. (STMW) — A west suburban woman was indicted Friday on 19 counts, including neglect, after her mentally disabled 14-year-old son died Sept. 8 in a filthy, insect-infested home filled with more than 100 cats and other animals.

Lydia Price, 49, of Berwyn was charged Sept. 12 with three felony counts of criminal abuse and neglect of a disabled person, and three misdemeanor counts of endangering the health of a child, Cook County State’s Attorney’s office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said.

But on Friday, an indictment was announced against Price on 19 counts, including 9 counts of neglect of the elderly by a caregiver, Class 3 felonies; two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, Class 4 felonies; and 8 misdemeanor counts of endangering the life of a child, Simonton said.

Matthew Degner, 14, of 2834 Lombard Ave. in Berwyn was pronounced dead at MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn at 4:39 p.m. on Sept. 8, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office. An autopsy determined he died of bronchopneumonia and his death was ruled natural.

Prosecutors detailed the home in Berwyn: It stank of feces and urine, and responding officers found 109 cats, three dogs, 38 cockatiels, two kinkajous, a raccoon, possum and Egyptian reptile, court records indicated.

Feces covered the floors and most surfaces, and the house was infested with spiders and insects. Officers also found hundreds of 4-5-inch hissing cockroaches. Most plumbing in the house did not work, including the toilets, washer and dryer.

“Our animal control unit was called out to assist,’’ Steve Patterson, spokesman for Cook County Sheriff’s office, said. “They encountered more than 100 animals in the home. Our animal control officers, who have been in some pretty horrific and disgusting environments, said this home was easily the worst they’ve been in.’’

Price has four other children — an 18-year-old son and daughters 17, 16 and 12. Degner had profound development and cognitive disabilities, while his 12-year-old sister has severe autism, court records said.

When investigators arrived, they found Degner not breathing in the backyard, naked except for a T-shirt. His siblings were all inside, shoeless and dirty, prosecutors allege. Authorities believe the family slept on the floors, with Price’s 77-year-old mother sleeping on the floor upstairs.

Price is being investigated by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, and three of the children were removed from the home, authorities said. They are receiving medical care and therapy.

DCFS spokesman Kendall Marlowe said the agency is investigating allegations of neglect.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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