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Police: Parents leave 19 kids home alone with no food in sweltering heat

A mother allegedly leaves a group of children alone in sweltering house for more than a week. WSMV's Carley Gordon reports.

Responding to a welfare complaint from a neighbor Monday, authorities were shocked when they entered a Kentucky home to find 19 children living in squalor with no parental supervision. 

Deputies said the children, who ranged in age from 8 months to 14 years, were living in the Bowling Green home with no food or working air conditioner, according to a news release by the Warren County Sheriff's Office

Warren County Sheriff's Detective Tim Robinson told The Associated Press that the three-bedroom house had dog feces inside. Temperatures had reached 101 degrees in the area on Monday.

He said the children had been left alone for a week.

Jackie Farah, who is the biological mother of some of the children, was arrested and charged with 14 counts of criminal abuse and five counts of wanton endangerment after traveling back from Chicago. She is being held without bond.

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Robinson told the AP that parents, Irving "Joe" Smith and Farah, left for Michigan on June 27 to tend to a family emergency and asked neighbors to check on the kids while they were gone. 

"It looks like a blended family," Robinson told the AP, with some of the children related to Smith and others to Farah.

He said the neighbor probably didn't realize how many kids were in the house. The AP reported that the children resorted at times to begging neighbors for food.

Smith is still being sought after, according to the press release. 

According to Robinson, when police arrived, the children behaved as if being left alone was a common occurrence. 

It was "not really a surprise to just be hanging out there by themselves," Robinson told the AP. "While certain children would be frantic — 'I need my mom' — this wasn't happening" with these kids.

Nine dogs and one cat were also found at the residence and removed by animal control. 

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The children were taken to a hospital and treated before being placed in the state protective custody.

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