Last October, we told you about one of the most disturbing child abuse stories in recent memory: the arrest of Wayne Sperling and Lorinda Bailey for abusing and neglecting their four boys, ages two, four, five and six, in a case whose feces-and-flies filled details were absolutely horrifying.
Now, Bailey has pleaded guilty and Sperling is scheduled for a status hearing to determine if he's competent to stand trial. Here's the latest.
As we've reported, an arrest affidavit notes that officers responded to a call from St. Joseph's Childrens Hospital about possible child abuse at forty minutes past midnight on September 29 of last year. 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.
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 three-year range between youngest and oldest.
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 the unemployed Sperling 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. Continue for more about Lorinda Bailey's guilty plea, including additional photos, two videos and the arrest affidavit. This last assertion stands out when juxtaposed with comments from neighbors who chatted with 7News around the time of the original arrest. They maintained 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.
Oh yeah: Bailey and Sperling had pleaded guilty to misdemeanor child abuse back in 2009 -- yet three years later, their kids were living in utterly deplorable conditions.
The Denver DA's office charged Sperling and Bailey with four counts each of child abuse. In the end, however, Bailey was allowed to plead guilty to a single count of felony child abuse naming all four kids. She's due for sentencing on September 18 and could be sentenced to as much as seven years in prison.
About a month later, on October 17, Sperling will be the centerpiece of a hearing for what the Denver DA's office describes as "a review of the findings of a competency evaluation." As for the kids, they're said to be safe and doing well considering the extraordinarily extreme circumstances.
Look below to see the original booking photos for Bailey and Sperling, followed by two 7News reports -- the first from last year, the second focusing on the latest developments. In addition, we've included the original arrest affidavit.
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Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.