Ind. couple charged for filthy, uninhabitable living conditions

WARNING: The following story contains graphic content

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Rotting food and dirty clothes littered every living area of the house, and the kitchen countertops were covered with dirt, grease, more rotting food and raw hamburger.

A bed one of the kids slept on had a hole in the middle stuffed with blankets and trash and smelled of urine. Outside, a cap to a sewer lateral had been removed, allowing raw sewage and tissue to flow over to the neighbors’ yard.

A Fort Wayne Police crime scene technician called it the “utmost extreme of very poor/uninhabitable” conditions she had seen in her 21 years of law enforcement.

Allen County Prosecutors last week charged the couple who lived at the home for trying to raise their teenage children in a home that had so much wrong with it Neighborhood Code condemned it on the spot.

As of Monday, 46-year-old Bobbie J. Rouse and 50-year-old Joseph A. Rouse had not been booked into Allen County Jail, according to court records.

Both face two felony counts each of neglect of a dependent and warrants have been issued for their arrests.

Medics and police were called to their home in March after receiving reports that a 2-month-old child in the home was not breathing, according to Allen Superior Court documents.

That infant, who was apparently the child of another couple living in the home, later died at a local hospital. Bobbie and Joseph Rouse are not charged in the baby’s death.

First responders, though, took note of the deplorable conditions of the home, according to court documents.

The home was infested with bed bugs, which were also found living on one of the children’s clothing and laptop the child had taken to school, according to court documents.

The electrical stove was not functioning as well as being a mess, the water heating system was not working properly and the toilet was full of feces, according to the court documents.

There were no smoke detectors, cobwebs along with more grease and dirt covered the walls, and the toilets were completely clogged, with sewage found even inside the home, court documents said.

Investigators found animal feces everywhere.

On a kitchen table was more food of various stages of decay, according to court documents, as well as various bongs and smoking items.

The two teenagers living in the home had beds without any bedding. They at times received a change of clothes at school, or had their clothes washed at school when they showed up in filthy clothing.

When interviewed by detectives, Joseph Rouse said in court documents the home had been condemned once before and it had taken the family a week to clean it up.

Bobbie Rouse said during her interview with the detectives that the children received baths daily before school, according to court documents.

A detective also overheard her tell one of the children that to get rid of the bed bugs, they’d have to “burn the house down,” court documents said.

The Department of Child Services has had multiple contacts with Bobbie and Joseph Rouse in the past, according to court documents, but it’s unclear in court documents whether the children were removed from their care after the latest incident.