GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Georgia social workers say that before a Gwinnett home burned down, killing a 10-year-old girl inside, it was a “house of horrors” where the children didn’t even know how to use toilet paper.
The home on Beaver Road in Loganville burned down earlier this month after a 15-year-old boy set it on fire. A ten-year-old girl who was trapped in a windowless bedroom was killed.
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The boy was initially arrested on arson and murder charges, but his parents are now being investigated on child abuse charges.
Channel 2 Action News filed an open records request with the state to obtain records on any previous contact the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services had with the family.
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Channel 2′s Gwinnett County Bureau Chief Tony Thomas sorted through the state records showing that workers with the Department of Children and Family services had previous contact with the family.
DFCS records show the family faced a child abuse complaint in 2015. A child told a teacher his father had pushed him down in the yard. Investigators ruled the charge unsubstantiated because of a lack of evidence. Case workers also found the home “clean and sanitary” with “plenty of food.”
Workers learned of a much different situation after the fire. “There was evidence the children were not able to leave the home for years. There are allegations of no adequate food,” said the 15-year-old’s attorney, Yari Lawson. “He’s not had much contact with his peers or family for years,” Lawson added.
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Channel 2 is not identifying the children because they are potential victims. A total of five children ages 8 to 17 lived at the home before the 10-year-old’s death.
A juvenile court judge is considering permanently taking the children into state custody.
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