Girls taken from filthy home

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COEUR d'ALENE - A 26-year-old Coeur d'Alene woman was arrested Sunday on two counts of felony injury to a child after police found her two children living in filthy, unhealthy conditions in Coeur d'Alene.

Sgt. Christie Wood of the Coeur d'Alene Police Department told the Press, "The conditions have never been this severe."

Police found Elizabeth C. Crossley's twin 2-year-old girls living in an apartment with a large number of cats and two dogs, and garbage and clutter strewn about, including dirty diapers. Fecal matter was smeared on walls.

Urine and feces soaked in and covered the carpet, and the smell of human waste was overpowering to investigators, she said. The stuffed toys the girls clutched also were smeared in feces.

Rotten food was in the kitchen, on the stove and counters at the apartment at 1201 N. Lincoln Way, Wood said.

"They had bruising on various parts of their bodies and open sores," she said. "Both girls had dried fecal matter caked on their head, arms, legs, hands, and feet."

A man walking by the apartment where the children were living saw the conditions the children were living in and confronted Crossley and their grandmother. The two women dismissed his concerns and shut the door on him, Wood said.

On Monday, an arrest warrant was issued for the grandmother, Ruth K. Cassidy, for felony injury to a child, Wood said.

Officers removed the girls from the apartment and placed them into protective custody. They were taken to Kootenai Medical Center for further examination of their injuries.

Wood commended the man who reported the conditions the girls were living in, Anthony Brown, 26.

Through a window, he observed the two small children sleeping naked on the floor. Brown said he could not see any bedding for the children and they appeared to be sleeping in very dirty conditions.

He knocked on the door of the apartment and spoke to Crossley and Cassidy. Brown told the women the children looked like they needed some attention.

Officers arrived and also observed through a window the children face down on the carpet, naked, and clutching a small teddy bear.

Officers made contact with the Crossley and Cassidy.

Officers observed Crossley's and Cassidy's bedrooms and saw beds in both rooms that appeared to be relatively clean. Officers asked about the children, but the women tried to keep police from seeing them, Wood said.

Where the girls were, there was a couch cushion tied to the door to muffle noise from the girls hitting it. There was a child door knob safety device so the girls could not open the door from the inside, Wood said.

That room had no furniture and there were smears of fecal matter on the walls from the girls' hands, she said.

Initially, Cassidy didn't know the girls' names when questioned by police.

"Ruth was unable to tell the officer which girl was which and mixed up their identities," Wood said. She was ultimately able to tell them apart by their different injuries, Wood said.

Crossley offered no reasonable explanation for the injuries or living conditions of the girls, she said.

"(Crossley) said they were trouble and difficult to manage," she said.

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