Authorities removed nine children from two filthy Hillsborough County homes Monday and charged their adult caregivers with neglect.
Six kids, ages 5 to 13, lived in a minefield of burnt garbage and rusty metal in a home on 30th Street. Three kids under age 4 were living amid animal waste in a home on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, law enforcement officials said.
Tampa police say Dewey Hendrix kept six children in deplorable conditions inside his home at 5018 N 30th St. They also accusing him of neglecting his animals.
Hendrix, 31, was charged with six counts of child neglect, eight counts of cruelty to animals and four counts of confinement of animals without food or water.
Police are still investigating what role, if any, the children's mother played.
"We are not sure as to what her role, or lack of role, is," said Sgt. Paul Mumford.
The children, whose identities have not been released, were wearing dirty clothes when police found them, and they had not been attending school, police said.
The six were taken into the custody of Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office child protection services.
Four dogs, believed to be labs, were euthanized after county Animal Services investigators found them sickly and thin. A fifth dog, a large, thin brown and black Cane Corso named Diesel, was kept alive, said Animal Services spokeswoman Marti Ryan.
Inside the vacant home, authorities found exposed electrical wires lining the walls and cords connecting two portable space heaters, one of which was covered with a blanket, police said.
The only running water came from the bathroom sink. The house has no kitchen, but a refrigerator held bags of rice and vegetables, officials said. Police found only one mattress, and it was covered with dirty linen.
City code officials condemned the building shortly after the police sweep.
Outside the home, a mountain of debris from a demolished building sits unattended in the back yard. Portions of the rear of the home were charred, but city fire officials say a fire was never reported at that address.
State criminal records show Hendrix has been arrested 11 times in Florida, including numerous probation violations and a 1995 arrest for aggravated battery on a pregnant female, but those charges were later dropped.
Later Monday, at 6915 E Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Hillsborough County deputies responding to a tip said they found three filthy children in a home with no electricity and no food.
As they entered the house, said sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter, deputies noticed a strong foul odor. They saw evidence that children - ages 11 months, 2 and 4 - had walked in animal waste, Carter said.
When deputies asked Naomi and David McIver, 23 and 22, why their house was so dirty, they told deputies that they had meant to clean up that weekend but could not because the power was out, Carter said.
The refrigerator and cupboards were bare, she said.
The three children were turned over to child protection workers, while the McIvers were taken into custody and charged with one count each of child neglect. Her bail was set at $1,000 cash and his at $2,000, Carter said.
Times staff writer S.I. Rosenbaum contributed to this report. Casey Cora can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3386.