Children found in squalor

An Augusta couple found living in a filthy apartment with their two small children were arrested on child-deprivation charges, police said.

Robert and Katrina Cole, both of the 2500 block of Yorkshire Drive, off Berckmans Road, face one count each of contributing to the deprivation of a minor, a misdemeanor, according to a Richmond County sheriff's report.

Police accompanied ambulance personnel to the home in Brookside West Apartments about 12:20 a.m. Sunday after they received a report of a deceased person.

Plastic bottles and cans about two feet deep lined the floor of a bedroom where the body of Robert Cole Sr., 51, was found. Richmond County Coroner Grover Tuten said Mr. Cole had been dead -- from natural causes -- for about 12 hours before authorities received the call from the couple.

The condition of the apartment was not a direct factor in his death, but it might have played some part, Mr. Tuten said.

"He could have not have possibly been receiving good hygienic care, but I can't say for sure it was a contributor," he said.

Authorities found bags of trash and rotten food covering parts of the kitchen. There were no dressers to contain clean clothing for the couple's two children, and the cabinets were bare except for some leftover fast food stacked in the refrigerator, the report said.

"Upon arrival Officer found the kitchen area was stacked with bags of trash overrunning into the floor," sheriff's Deputies Robert Bryant and Davion Hart said in their report. "Rotten food items were also on the counter tops and floor."

Upstairs, police found the couple's 6-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter lying on a mattress on the floor with no bedsheets, the report said.

A representative from the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services was called to photograph the scene.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.