Wayne Sperling's child abuse bust: Swarms of flies, piles of feces
The Denver District Attorney's Office doesn't accuse Wayne Sperling and Lorinda Bailey of beating their children -- boys ages two, four, five and six, all described as so developmentally delayed that none of them could speak. But prosecutors believe their living conditions constituted child abuse -- and Sperling's arrest affidavit (see it below) certainly paints a horrifying picture.
Featured elements: swarms of flies and feces piles of disputed origin.
At forty minutes after midnight on September 29, according to the police document, officers responded to a call from St. Joseph's Childrens Hospital about possible child abuse. A two year old brought into the emergency room by Bailey had a laceration on his forehead and bruising to his right ear, and her explanation -- another child had supposedly thrown a toy at him -- didn't fit the injury in the opinion of doctors at the facility.
The apartment in question.
In addition, the child was "non-verbal," apparently unwashed and smelled of cigarette smoke.
The next morning, an officer and a Denver Human Services case worker headed to the family's residence, on 18th Street in Denver, to check on the welfare of the other three children Bailey mentioned. Upon entering the apartment, the officer encountered an "unbearable" smell he associated with numerous cats running around the apartment, not to mention feces scattered on the floor. Moreover, flies were said to have covered every surface in a bedroom at the back of the apartment where the children slept.
As for the kids themselves, none of them spoke, instead making "infant-like noises" in order to communicate with each other. They also appeared to be so malnourished that the cop on the scene couldn't distinguish between them in terms of age despite a range from three to six years.
After police took the kids into protective custody, they conducted an interview with Bailey, who promptly changed her story about the two year old's injury: She said he'd hurt himself by falling off the toilet.
Bailey added that Sperling, who is unemployed, was in charge of taking care of the kids, and while the parents were living in separate apartments, she saw her offspring on weekdays. In her view, the condition of the apartment wasn't all that bad.
Next came an interview with Sperling. He insisted that the kids were capable of speaking in ways understandable to him and Bailey, although they also had a language of their own -- one that entailed them grunting at each other. In addition, he maintained that while some of the feces on the floor of the apartment looked human, it all came from cats.
A cat that appears to be living in the apartment.
This last assertion stands out when juxtaposed with comments from neighbors who chatted with 7News. They maintain that the kids weren't toilet-trained -- an assertion reinforced in the arrest affidavit. One woman adds that she contacted Social Services months ago about the deplorable state in which the children were being kept, but nothing was done until the forehead wound.
In his conversation with the cops, Sperling shrugged off the presence of the flies, saying they congregate in the apartment every summer due to the cats' disinterest in using a litter box. In addition, he said he regularly mopped the place -- yet he acknowledged that it was "not spotless."
That's putting it mildly. Another inspection of the apartment revealed cat feces one to two inches thick under the beds in which the children slept.
The Denver DA's office has now charged Sperling and Bailey with four counts each of child abuse. They're scheduled to be formally advised of the charges against them in Denver County Court tomorrow morning.
Here's a look at booking photos for Bailey and Sperling, followed by the aforementioned 7News report and the complete arrest affidavit.
More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Regina Marquez, who called child abuse claims 'ridiculous,' pleads guilty to child abuse."
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Denver, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.