EVANSVILLE, Indiana − A baby found nearly eaten-alive by rats was hospitalized and his parents were facing felony charges in Indiana after police said they found the infant inside the family's "rodent-infested" home.
Evansville Police Department officers responded to a home Sept. 13 after the child's father called police and said his 6-month-old son appeared to have suffered serious bite wounds, according to an arrest affidavits obtained by the Evansville Courier and Press, part of the USA TODAY Network.
The home where officers responded is just south of downtown Evansville, about three miles from the Kentucky state line.
The child's parents, age 28 and 31, were booked into the Vanderburgh County Jail Thursday on multiple counts of neglect and other criminal charges.
USA TODAY is not naming the parents to protect the identify of their minor children.
Records show the child's father was jailed without bond Friday and his wife was being held on a $10,000 bond.
It was not immediately known if either spouse had obtained an attorney.
On Friday, police Sgt. Anna Gray told USA TODAY, the baby had been released from the hospital and had been placed in foster care.
"I've been on an officer for 20 years, and we've seen some serious neglect cases but nothing where it involved rats feeding off a child," Gray said. "It's horrible."
Arrest affidavits say the couple lived at the home with their three children, including the baby, and another family member, who is 25, and her two children.
When officers responded to the home, police found the 6-month-old baby suffering from more than 50 bite wounds to his head and face, police Det. Jonathan Helm wrote in an arrest affidavit.
"All four of (the victim's) fingers and thumb on his right hand were missing the flesh from the top of them, exposing fingertip bones," Helm wrote. "The damage to (the victim's) index and pinky fingers were the most severe, as they were missing the flesh halfway down each finger."
Paramedics stabilized the baby and transported him to a local hospital, police reported. According to medical records reviewed by detectives, the infant's temperature was 93.5 degrees upon arrival, and he had a blood-oxygen level of 69%.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the average body temperature is 98.6 and a normal level of oxygen is usually 95% or higher. The infant's vitals, according to medical experts, show the baby was suffering from moderate hypothermia as well as hypoxemia.
The baby was later moved to a hospital in Indianapolis, police said, where he required a blood transfusion.
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A rodent infestation confirmation
The finding came just a few weeks after an Indiana Department of Child Services worker reported the home had a rodent infestation, according to arrest affidavits. As recently as August, a Terminix technician noted in a report that trash was stacked in the backyard, which would continue to attract rodents.
During a police interview, the 25-year-old identified by police as the baby's aunt − reportedly told investigators two children living in the home told a school teacher on Sept. 1 that their feet were being bitten by mice while they slept in the home.
Four days later, on Sept. 5, DCS caseworker Christina White traveled to the home, police wrote, and spoke with the aunt who told White the home had a “normal amount of mice," and denied wounds to one child's feet were caused by rodents.
Detectives said White provided the aunt with a "safety plan" and said she would return for a follow-up visit Sept. 14. But when police visited the home Sept. 13, they reported observing blood-stained rodent footprints, rodent feces and trash strewn about.
Previous claims of neglect
Prior to the DCS visits, the agency substantiated a claim of neglect against the baby's parents, detectives found. According to the report, which the DCS confirmed in December, two children were injured due to a lack of supervision. Details were not included in that report.
In April, Maglinger Home Based Services began conducting twice-weekly visits to the family's home, where, a police detective said, a caseworker’s notes showed the house was littered with trash, animal feces and dirty dishes.
But, the caseworker concluded, the home was “slowly improving.”
Records show a Maglinger Home Based Services caseworker visited the home on Sept. 9, four days before the father dialed 911 to report his son's injuries.
Children removed from home by DCS
On Monday, a judge issued warrants for the baby's parents and his aunt, court records show. The couple is charged with multiple counts of neglect of a dependent, records show. The baby's mother is also charged with reckless supervision of a child and her husband is also facing a probation violation.
The aunt, who was booked into the jail Thursday, is charged with two counts of neglect of a dependent and remained jailed Friday on $2,500 bond.
All children in the home have since been removed from their parent's care by DCS.
Vanderburgh County DCS could not immediately be reached by the USA TODAY Network.
Natalie Neysa Alund is a senior correspondent for USA TODAY. Reach her at email@example.com and follow her on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter @nataliealund. Houston Harwood can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article originally appeared on Evansville Courier & Press: Indiana baby hospitalized after being bit more than 50 times by rats