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Records outline neglect of children

AVON PARK Day after day, adults would come and go from an Avon Park apartment full of squalor and roaches. They would eat, play video games and smoke marijuana and synthetic marijuana. Most of them would pay little attention to a 10-month-old boy and three girls, ages, 2, 3, 4, who were kept in a room with the door closed most of the time. And even after the 10-month-old, Milo Rupert, died on July 7, 2012, after not having eaten for at least three days, most of those adults seemed to not care. That was the picture presented by Florida Department of Children and Families records that were released Friday.
The parents, Sandra Michelle Jackson, 25, and Kyle Lee Marsh Rupert, 22, were arrested in January and charged with aggravated manslaughter. Previously they were charged with one count of child neglect with great harm and three counts of child neglect without great harm. Among other things, the reports note that following the death of Milo, Jackson was no where to be found. And when she was found, she did not ask what happened to the children. The father was seen laughing and joking with friends not long after the death, the report said, adding that he had not attempted to give cardio-pulmonary resuscitation to the infant. DCF reports from three earlier complaints about the conditions in which the children were being raised stated that roach problems were discovered, but the conditions did not appear to be life-threatening for the children. Subsequent visits would show that some effort was made to deal with the roach problem At one point, apparently the children were placed with the maternal grandmother while the conditions were improved, but it was not a forced removal of the children. But subsequently, the conditions apparently took a turn for the worse, DCF officials said, leading to the call on July 7, 2012, about the death of Milo. The department received information on July 9 about the conditions in the apartment that were prevalent before Milo died, the records show. That complaint said, "The father and other guys smoked weed in the presence of the children. The father also drank to the point of intoxication. This occurred almost every other day. "The children are left in the room along with the door closed all the time. They wander in the room unattended during this time. Milo was left upstairs alone in a room, as well, all the time. The children are dirty with bugs all over them and roaches all over the home. All the time, the children's diapers are sagging down to their knees due to it being dirty with urine. The children's room smells of urine as well. The children have big (bug) bites all over their faces. This was an ongoing issue and the home conditions never changed. In the past, the mother and father refused to allow maintenance to provide pest control from the home," the complaint said. An autopsy report included in the files said that during the first year of life most babies grow rapidly, but that was not the case for Milo. The report noted that Milo had actually lost 27 percent of his body weight between Jan. 23, and July 7, 2012. "It appears that this baby was not receiving appropriate nutrition, which resulted in his under development and body weight loss," the report said. It concluded that malnutrition contributed to the death. During a conference held with representatives with different agencies, the medical examiner stated that "due to there being no food in the child's digestive track, he had not eaten in approximately three days," a report said. It was also discovered that Milo "had large areas on his legs where German roaches had been gnawing on his flesh," the report said. Reports also noted that an investigator arrived at the home on July 7 and saw that "several individuals were standing by the front door, laughing and appeared to be joking around. One of the individuals was later identified as the father, Kyle Rupert." When the investigators arrived, the mother was not present, although she had let work around 1 a.m., the report said. The reports said Jackson arrived home at around 5 a.m. It gave some conflicting information about the mother's reaction. While it noted that at one point the mother was crying, the investigator "noted never having heard the mother ask what had happened to Milo or get upset at the father what had happened." Jackson did say she was in a relationship with another man because Rupert didn't do any work at the home, the report said. Through interviews with Jackson, investigators determined that she "was not taking any responsibility for her home or children's condition." The three children surviving children were placed in the custody of Jackson's aunt and uncle, Roy and Amy Jackson. Amy Jackson told authorities that during the ride from Sebring to their home, she changed the diapers of the children and was "appalled" when she saw a roach crawl out of one of the child's vaginal areas. She has said in the months since then the children's conditions have improved markedly. The parents had pleaded not guilty to the charges of neglect and aggravated manslaughter.

jmeisel@highlandstoday.com (863) 386-5834