Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Lydia Price - Illinois

May 1, 2012:  Lydia Price, Berwyn mom accused of animal hoarding and neglect, appears in court

By Brett Schweinberg

Lydia Price, the Berwyn mother facing 11 felony charges of neglect after her son Matthew Degner died outside a house allegedly brimming with 212 animals, seven people and no working toilets, appeared in court today.
Her case was continued, pending further discovery of evidence, until June 6. No pre-trial motions have been entered to date.
Prosecutors told Judge Noreen Love that they are still waiting for the agencies that worked the case to file evidence, without naming specific agencies.
Price appeared in court in a blue sweatshirt, matching blue sweatpants and a puffy black jacket. Her hair pulled back in a scrunchy, Price waited nearly two hours for her case to be called..."  More

Dec 14, 2011:  Berwyn mom accused in son's death denies hoarding

By: Eric Horng

Lydia Price talked about the death of her son in an exclusive television interview with ABC7. 
Price described what happened last September on the day her son, 14-year-old Matthew, died. 

"There is no sorrow greater than the loss of a child," Price told ABC7. The teenager apparently died in the family's Berwyn home that was filled with dozens of animals. The suburban mother faces several felony charges in connection with her son's death. 

Price has pleaded not guilty to animal cruelty and caregiver neglect charges. In addition to the death of her son Matthew, three of her daughters are now in state custody and another adult son is staying with relatives. But Price maintains she's neither a bad mother nor a criminal. 

"I don't believe that the animals actually had anything to do with Matthew's death," said Price. 

Those animals, numbering more than 200, included birds, cats, dogs, and gerbils and many, officials say, were in cages with dead animals and covered in waste and cockroaches. 

"Some of those animals, they should have been adopted out, and I attempted many times to have that happen, to find homes for them," said Price.."  More & video

Dec 1, 2011:  Lydia Price accused animal hoarding mom 911 tapes revealed
By Brett Schweinberg

Lydia Price, the Berwyn mother accused of causing her son's death by hoarding more than 200 animals in their small home, believed her son was dead before paramedics could arrive, according to recently released recordings of the 911 call she made.

Berwyn Police Department officials discovered squalid conditions inside the home on Sept. 8, where prosecutors say Price lived with four children and her 77-year-old mother.
According to media reports, at the beginning of the tape, Price said her son, Matthew Degner, 14, “ might be dying.” Later she said, “He might be dead.”
Finally, Price's voice can be heard saying, “He's dead. He's dead. He's dead. He's dead ... . My God. My God.”
Price tells the dispatcher that she's taking her son to the back of the house. Prosecutors allege that she took her son to the back of the home in an attempt to conceal the conditions within the house. Price has maintained that she took him to outside to get him fresh air and so that paramedics could get to him more quickly.
Price is currently charged with 11 felonies as a result of Matthew's death and the conditions within the home. She is free on $10,000 bond and awaiting trial..."  More & audio

Oct 31, 2011:  Lydia Price, accused of animal hoarding, pleads not guilty

By Brett Schweinberg

Lydia Price, the Berwyn mother accused of criminal neglect after her 14-year-old son Matthew Degner died outside her home that housed more than 200 animals, pleaded not guilty in court today.

Price is charged with 11 felonies, including two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals and nine counts of abuse or neglect by a caregiver. Prosecutors will move forward with those charges and not previous charges, which included two felonies and six misdemeanors.

If convicted on all charges, Price could face up to five years in prison, said Andy Conklin, a spokesman for the Cook County District Attorney's Office.

Price remains free on bond. Prosecutors today presented a stack of evidence, including police reports and photos.

Her next status hearing is Dec. 15..."  Link

Oct 9, 2011:  Berwyn animal hoarding: More neglect charges against mom whose son, 14, died

By Victoria Pierce

Berwyn mother accused of endangering her children and hoarding animals after her family was found living in squalor and one of her sons died has been indicted on 11 felony counts by a Cook County grand jury.

The grand jury this week indicted Lydia Price on nine counts of abuse and neglect by a caregiver and two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals. Price initially had been charged last month with two felonies and six misdemeanors in connection with the case.

Price, 49, remained free on bond Friday following a court appearance in Maywood.

Prosecutors had been expected to seek higher bail for Price, but no motion was made during the hearing before Judge Gilbert Grossi. Another judge had set bail last month at $100,000, and Price was released when relatives posted $10,000.

Grossi set Oct. 31 for arraignment.

Price, who was arrested following the death of her 14-year-old mentally disabled son, was represented in court by a new attorney, Steve Greenberg..."  

Oct 7, 2011:  Animal-Hoarding Mom Hit With New Abuse And Neglect Charges

A west suburban woman was indicted Friday on 19 counts, including neglect, after her mentally disabled 14-year-old son died Sept. 8 in a filthy, insect-infested home filled with more than 100 cats and other animals.

Lydia Price, 49, of Berwyn was charged Sept. 12 with three felony counts of criminal abuse and neglect of a disabled person, and three misdemeanor counts of endangering the health of a child, Cook County State’s Attorney’s office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said.

But on Friday, an indictment was announced against Price on 19 counts, including 9 counts of neglect of the elderly by a caregiver, Class 3 felonies; two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, Class 4 felonies; and 8 misdemeanor counts of endangering the life of a child, Simonton said..."  More

Oct 5, 2011:  Animal hoarding house demolition continued

By Brett Schweinberg

City officials hoping to demolish the former home of Lydia Price in the 2800 block of Lombard Avenue will have to wait.

The house was boarded up and fenced off shortly after police and fire personnel discovered Matthew Degner's lifeless body in the rear of the residence on Sept. 8 along with more than 200 animals inside the house.

The restraining order keeping people from entering the premises was extended through Oct. 12 during a court hearing this morning.
Although the city has levied more than $88,000 in fines, the property’s owner, Robert Majewski, is staving off demolition. Majewski also produced a lease-to-own contract in court that shows Price making payments.
Majewski said payments under that contract were made as recently as August.
Given that the home has not been foreclosed on, Price may still have some rights regarding the property. Cook County Sheriff's Office officials have yet to serve Price notice of the hearing while she stays with family members in Justice.
Price also will have a status hearing on criminal charges against her relating to Matthew's death and the squalid conditions in the home 9 a.m. Friday at the Maybrook District Courthouse in Maywood.
Prosecutors are expected to asking to increase her bail.
She is currently free on bond..."  More

Oct 1, 2011:  Lydia Price animal hoarding case: What went wrong in disabled Berwyn teen Matthew Degner's death?

By Brett Schweinberg

The isolation that ended with Matthew Degner lifeless in his backyard is difficult to fathom.

Members of his extended family had never met him. A neighbor said she saw him just once in the seven years she lived right next door. Prosecutors say he never saw the inside of a school or a doctor’s office.

Inside his Berwyn home, his mother had sealed off nearly every window and door with thick styrofoam insulation, plastic sheeting and duct tape to keep the smells of the hundreds of animals living there indoors.
Despite the lengths Lydia Price went through to keep her family and the conditions they lived in a secret, there were many opportunities to prevent Matthew’s death.
Since 2003, Berwyn police had visited the home at least six times, once for a report of a possible operation of a meth lab. When Price refused entrance that day in 2004 after an officer smelled a strong odor of animal feces coming from inside, the incident was shuffled off to the Berwyn Health Department, where it’s unknown if follow-up was made.
As recently as June, a building inspector knocked on the door to notify the family of a list of building code violations, but left when no one answered.
Matthew’s aunt called the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to try to have somebody check on the well being of the kids, but lacked the information for the agency to take action.
A neighbor met with a building department inspector and said five kids that never went to school lived in a poorly maintained house that smelled bad. He was told it wasn’t a building issue.
And of course — at any point — a neighbor could have knocked on the door to ask if the family needed any help.
The death of any child is tragic. But Matthew’s death last month is all the more unsettling because it didn’t have to happen..."  More

‘It took a kid to die’

By Brett Schweinberg

In a worn-out blue sweatshirt with her dishwater-blonde hair pulled back in a loose ponytail, Lydia Price paced.

It had been exactly two weeks since her life was fundamentally altered by the death of her 14-year-old son, Matthew Degner.

Puffing on her cigarette outside with mere moments between drags, Price looked lost.
The 47-year-old has virtually nothing left.
Matthew’s gone, and she may never see her other children again. Most of the animals she kept stacked in cages upon cages in her home are now dead. That house, that world she fought to protect, is now fenced in and boarded off. A court order prohibits her from going there, and it’s likely to be demolished.
While adjusting to this new life, Price must grieve for the loss of her son at the same time she faces the specter of a lengthy prison sentence.
The Berwyn mother is charged with two felonies relating to Matthew’s death, four misdemeanor counts of endangering the life of a child and two other misdemeanors related to animal hoarding and animal cruelty.
For now, she’s out on bail and living in a modest apartment with her brother in south suburban Justice. On Friday, prosecutors will ask to put her back in jail.
‘You wouldn’t believe it’
Going back to the overcast fall day Matthew was reported dead nearly a month ago, Berwyn Assistant Fire Chief Greg DiMenna arrived at Price’s two-flat, barely seen behind a heavy veil of trees, to find five or six police officers somberly milling about the front of the building.
Meanwhile, Price’s four other children and their 77-year-old grandmother were standing in the backyard. DiMenna immediately called for three more ambulances to take them to the hospital.
It then only took a peek inside the home, DiMenna said, before he decided nobody could go in without a Hazmat suit. Animal waste was seeping out of cat cages, bugs hovered around the tops of mattresses and 4-inch-long African hissing cockroaches ran rampant..."  More

Sept 20, 2011 - Family Speaks Out About Boy’s Death At Squalid Home

"...Barbara Price says her daughter’s husband began bringing the creatures into the house after picking them up at swap meets. Once he went to prison, she says the family could not afford to take care of them or clean the place up.

She denies the place was unhealthy. “I came from Minneapolis Minnesota many years ago, from a hog farm” she says. “I know what filth is. If we lived here all these years, how come suddenly its deadly? Shouldn’t we have died long ago?”

Her grandson Matthew did die in the house, a victim of bronchial pneumonia.
His four young siblings are now in the custody of DCFS.
Lydia Price, their mother, is due for another court hearing on Thursday..."  More & video

Sept 14, 2011 - Lydia Price, mother of dead Berwyn teen, bonds out of jail

By Brett Schweinberg

Four additional children ages 12 to 18 were found in the home, along with their 77-year-old grandmother. The minors are now in the custody of DCFS, and have all been treated and released from MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn. The 18-year-old and 77-year-old were also treated, but their condition is not known.

All 109 cats found on the property had to be euthanized because they all had feline leukemia and feline AIDS. Price also was hoarding dogs, exotic birds, squirrels, rats, a large raccoon, brown bats, rabbits and two kinkajous — raccoon-like animals that are found in South America. According to a Berwyn news release, some of the other animals were also euthanized “due to tumors, rabies or other potential diseases which can be transmitted to humans.”A police official, however, said the public is not in danger.

The Animal Welfare League of Chicago has been heading the release of some feral animals back into the wild and taking domesticated ones into custody.
Although the house had running water, the toilets were not working. Police officials said the kids were found with their feet caked in human and animal feces and their bodies were covered in animal bites and scratches..."  More

Sept 13, 2011 - Family posts bail for Berwyn mother accused of hoarding pets

By Christy Gutowski 

A Berwyn mother is free on $10,000 bail after her arrest on charges she raised her children in a filthy home filled with diseased animals and without working plumbing, authorities said Tuesday.
Lydia Price, 49, is scheduled to appear Wednesday in a Maywood courtroom on charges alleging criminal neglect of a disabled child, child endangerment and animal hoarding.
Price’s family helped her raise the money for her release just before 10 p.m. Monday, according to the Cook County sheriff and circuit clerk offices..."  More

Sept 12, 2011 - Mother charged in son's death in animal hoarding case; other details emerge

By Brett Schweinberg

A Berwyn woman has been charged with neglect and cruelty to animals after her son was found dead on a property with more than 200 animals on Thursday.
Lydia Price, 47, is charged with with one felony county of criminal neglect of a disabled child resulting in death, one felony count of criminal neglect of a disabled child not resulting in death, four misdemeanor counts of endangering the life of a child, one misdemeanor count of companion animal hoarding, and one misdemeanor count of cruel treatment.
According to a statement from the Berwyn police department, four children ages 12 to 18 were found in the property, along with the children's grandmother and 212 animals. All of the 109 cats found on the property had to be euthanized due to feline leukemia, feline AIDS, and severe upper respiratory infections..."  More

Sept 9, 2011 - Boy's Death Leads To Animal Hoarding Investigation

By:  Eric Horng 

An investigation into the death of 14-year-old Berwyn boy led officials to a home that contained dozens of animals, including dogs, cats, rats and raccoons.

Matthew Degner, of the 2800-block of Lombard in Berwyn, died of bronchopneumonia and the death was ruled natural, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office. His body was found inside the home, which also contained more than 100 animals.

A spokesperson for Illinois Department of Family Services says that it is investigating allegations of neglect against the dead boy's mother and three siblings, ages 12 to 17, have been removed from the house.

A Yorkie Terrier mix is one of nearly 200 animals in the care of the Animal Welfare League. The group says they were found covered in feces and cockroaches.

"The animals are dehydrated, and they were in cages with dead animals," said Linda Estrada, Animal Welfare League. "Each cage had like four or five inches of mold and feces."..."  More & video

Illinois law on companion animal hoarding - click here

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