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Crime

Tenn. Couple Arrested After Allegedly Locking Son in Room and Hoarding Dead Animals in a Freezer

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Police in Tennessee have arrested a married couple on child abuse charges after allegedly uncovering 10 dead animals in a freezer in their home and finding a young boy locked in a room there that was blanketed with garbage and human waste, PEOPLE confirms.

Prompted by an anonymous tip, officers in Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee, were dispatched to the home of Dustin and Staci Tallent on Monday morning to check on the welfare of their children — a 5-year-old boy and his 2-year-old twin brothers.

A police spokesman tells PEOPLE that the responding officers found the home riddled with refuse, including stacked piles of garbage as well as fecal matter throughout the entire home.

As officers entered the residence, at least one of the children was discovered allegedly held in a locked room that was secured with chains, the spokesman confirms. The conditions in the residence were “deplorable,” police told ABC News.

The Tallents were subsequently arrested and charged with one count each of aggravated child neglect.

The scene inside the home of Dustin and Staci Tallent in Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee, according to authorities.
Humane Educational Society

All three children were removed from the home, according to authorities, They were treated at a nearby hospital before being turned over to the custody of relatives.

Officers also removed 20 animals from the home; 10 were dead and found stuffed in the couple’s freezer, police said.

Hamilton County Sheriff's Dept.

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Bob Citrullo, executive director of the local Humane Educational Society, tells PEOPLE that one of the dogs required a blood transfusion to live.

“We removed four dogs, three cats, one rabbit, one python snake, and one bearded lizard,” he explains. “There was wildlife there as well; some turtles and fish were also removed.”

Two of the animals recovered from the home of of Dustin and Staci Tallent in Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee, authorities said.
Humane Educational Society
The scene inside the home of Dustin and Staci Tallent in Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee, according to authorities.
Humane Educational Society

The dead animals — two dogs, a cat, a rabbit, two turtles and five parakeets — likely died of malnutrition, Citrullo says.

Staci Tallent, 31, and Dustin Tallent, 24, both remain behind bars with unspecified bail amounts.

“There’s no criminal activity or criminal intent here,” one Tallent relative told local TV station WRCB, claiming it was “a matter of very, very poor housekeeping.” (Family members could not be reached by PEOPLE for comment on Wednesday.)

It is unclear if either defendant has entered a plea to the child abuse charges they face. As of press time, neither has retained a lawyer who could comment on their behalf.