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Police: Kids Were Found In Squalor After Baby’s Death

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CHICAGO (CBS) — A Little Village neighborhood couple is charged with child endangerment, in an investigation by police and state welfare agents following the death of their infant son and the discovery of three other children living in squalor.

Esmerelda Romero, 23, and Melito Perez, 27, of the 2500 block of South Spaulding Avenue, were both charged with three counts of misdemeanor child endangerment, police said.

Police began investigating after Romero found the couple’s 6-month-old son unresponsive at their home Tuesday and brought him to Mount Sinai Hospital, police said.

The baby, Carlos Perez, was pronounced dead at the hospital at 2:40 p.m. Tuesday, according to police and the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office. An autopsy performed Wednesday was inconclusive, and Romero and Perez have not been charged in connection with his death.

But police following up on the death investigation came to the couple’s home, and found the children living in squalor.

Officers allegedly found signs of a cockroach infestation and flying insects. They said the other children — two boys, ages 3 and 1, and a 4-year-old girl — had bug bites on their arms and legs, police said. They were taken for medical treatment.

Police also found feces smeared on the floor and food rotting in the refrigerator. The home also lacked proper food and bedding, police claim.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services was notified and is investigating. DCFS spokesman Kendall Marlowe said there was no previous investigation of the family. Three other children are now in the care of relatives, he said.

Both Romero and Perez were released on personal recognizance bonds, police said. Romeo will appear later Thursday in domestic court (Br. 60), and both are scheduled to appear in court April 3.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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