11 children found in squalid rural house

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HEPHZIBAH --- Deputies in Richmond and Burke counties are searching for an Augusta man after finding 11 of his children living in a home without electricity or running water.

Police made the discovery on Spring Hill Church Road in rural Burke County on Thursday afternoon while looking for suspects in the theft of a chainsaw, according to Burke County sheriff's Capt. Frankie Parker.

Inside the home, they found the children, ages 9 months to 18 years old, along with their mother. The children were wearing ragged clothes, and aside from two cans of jelly, there was no food inside, according to Sheriff Greg Coursey.

"She said they were eating jelly sandwiches and had eaten some chicken before we got there," Sheriff Coursey said.

The home is located off a dirt road with few neighbors nearby. Investigators said that had the children not attempted to steal from their neighbor, who lives across a field full of tall grass, police might never have known about the conditions at the home.

After checking with the local school system, investigators said none of the 11 children has ever attended school. Capt. Parker said the mother, 38-year-old Christine Long, claimed to be teaching the children from home, but there are no records of her registering with the Burke County school system nor were there school books in the home.

"The first girl could write her name and date of birth," said Capt. Parker, who handed out a pad and pens to the kids in order to get their information. "The second girl couldn't figure it out, and it just started going downhill from there."

Investigators say they believe the children's father, Jeremy Long, lives in the 2000 block of Wrightsboro Road in Richmond County. He is wanted on charges of child abandonment and child neglect, with more charges to come, Capt. Parker said.

Aside from the 18-year-old, the children have been taken by the Department of Family and Child Services and are now in foster care. Their mother is staying in a local motel and also could face charges, police said.

A slew of cats and kittens, along with an old mutt, were the only remaining tenants as investigators were photographing the home Friday afternoon. Without any electricity, the only light came from the open flume in the fireplace and holes in the walls and ceiling -- just enough to see several crayon drawings of Spider-Man lining the wall.

Two brown refrigerators were empty in the kitchen, balanced on a patchwork floor of exposed plywood. A casette tape from DFACS labeled Childproofing Your Home: Keeping Kids Safe and Healthy , was visible in the backyard along with countless old tires and empty buckets.

The conditions described by police are criminal, said Charles Jackson, the chairman of the Department of Educational Leadership, Counseling, and Special Education in the Augusta State University College of Education.

"I've never heard of anything like this," said Dr. Jackson, who holds a doctorate degree in educational psychology. "I've read literature about feral children as an undergrad, but nothing recent."

The children likely have poor reading, math and social skills; malnutrition and health, dental, psychological and emotional issues, he said.

"There are a whole host of concerns," Dr. Jackson said. "I would like to know where the authorities have been."

It's not unusual for there to be uneasiness associated with home-schooling, but a situation in which children are without school for so long is more extreme, he said.

"You're talking about intellectual deprivation," Dr. Jackson said.

Sheriff Coursey said there is no record of the family contacting DFACS nor were they on any kind of government assistance. Dena Smith, a spokeswoman for DFACS, confirmed that the family had never been a part of the their system.

Burke County school Superintendent Linda Bailey said a counselor and social worker will work with the family as the children enter school.

"We're going to do everything we possibly can do to make the transition smooth," Mrs. Bailey said.

Staff Writer Greg Gelpi contributed to this article.

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

Comments (106) Add comment
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i.b.e.w..electric
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i.b.e.w..electric 08/02/08 - 04:55 am
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i cant believe something like

i cant believe something like this still happens.mr and mrs long should have known there are to many programs out there to help you if your poor and cant provide(birth control being one of them).if this was caused by pride then it is inexcusable.when it comes to children you have to swallow that pride and ask for help no matter how bitter it is.

patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 08/02/08 - 06:22 am
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When the parents have severe

When the parents have severe mental and emotional problems (why else would they act so irresponsibly), the children are the ones to suffer. There was a reason for the isolation and I can't imagine any good reason for it. The teenage children will have a difficult time making the transition. This is a truly sad case.

HYPOCRITES 08
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HYPOCRITES 08 08/02/08 - 07:10 am
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That's my thing, there are

That's my thing, there are too many programs out there along with Church and other social agencies. I agree with PT, there has to be mental issues involved. My question is, where is their extended family?

crackerjack
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crackerjack 08/02/08 - 07:27 am
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I can't believe the Tax

I can't believe the Tax Assessor didn't find them and report them. They could find an abandoned doghouse in a alligator infested swamp, just to get a couple of dollars in taxes.

sliique
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sliique 08/02/08 - 07:28 am
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Here, FELLOW I.B.E.W Member

Here, FELLOW I.B.E.W Member in good standing! Show THIS to these OBVIOUSLY ill informed "clique," folk and add steve-o to the list, please.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121755649066303381.html?mod=hpp_us_whats...

johnpaulquincy
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johnpaulquincy 08/02/08 - 07:41 am
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This is truly, truly sad.

This is truly, truly sad. During all this time, WHERE were the authorities? A Dfacs tape in the yard, who gave it to them??? Does a lot of good without electricity or a player!

HYPOCRITES 08
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HYPOCRITES 08 08/02/08 - 07:43 am
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John Paul, According to DFACS

John Paul, According to DFACS there is no record of the family EVER receiving aid from them. You would think if they were getting government aid one or more agency would have noticed something.

HYPOCRITES 08
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HYPOCRITES 08 08/02/08 - 07:44 am
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So deleted our post did we?

So deleted our post did we? LOL

johnpaulquincy
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johnpaulquincy 08/02/08 - 07:44 am
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IB,

IB, pride??????????????????????????????????? he is wanted for child neglect and abandonment!!!!!! Pride??????? How about just a straight no good piece of shieeeeeeet!!!! Sometimes you make me question your intellect, there general!

johnpaulquincy
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johnpaulquincy 08/02/08 - 07:45 am
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cracker, most sensible post

cracker, most sensible post yet!!!!!

johnpaulquincy
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johnpaulquincy 08/02/08 - 07:47 am
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Mr hamer, that was my bad. I

Mr hamer, that was my bad. I was skimming the article and failed to notice that the first pass. Do you have a problem with that?

Just me 2
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Just me 2 08/02/08 - 07:53 am
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Really sounds like they may

Really sounds like they may have been threatened to make them stay hidden by the father. After all he had moved on to the outside world. How long had he been living at a different address?? There is
a baby in this picture. Who delivered all these children? There is no telling what they have been told about real life. I just feel that those children would have been too curious about other people if they had not been threatened in some way.

ListenAndLearn
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ListenAndLearn 08/02/08 - 07:54 am
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I never saw anything this

I never saw anything this extreme, but if they had asked for assistance and the children were made to go to school...this would have opened up more issues than most agencies want to deal with. It's very sad there are all these children that we need to help in everyway imaginable and a mother who has such a low self esteem (God only knows why) that she may never realize what she and her children have suffered and what they can now have if willing to accept it. YES, taxpayers will pay for it but I'd rather my money be spent on this family than all the people who expect it and still do not thrive when they get it. Our system is lacking but right now it's going to be all this family has I'm sure. But, by the grace of God many of us could have such a sad life! My heart is heavy for these children. We have to be more aware of what's around us. I'm guilty too of tuning out and staying out of it. I'm sure I'll catch hell for my opinion and it's OK. I don't say much on here, but when I do...I mean it and it's worthwhile to me if no-one else.

farfaraway
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farfaraway 08/02/08 - 07:59 am
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Reminds me of the book

Reminds me of the book Tobacco Road. Where people didn't ask for help and lived in squaller. Who knows the husband (???) might have threatened her if she asked for any help.

johnpaulquincy
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johnpaulquincy 08/02/08 - 08:04 am
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Do any of you believe this is

Do any of you believe this is an isolated case?

HYPOCRITES 08
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HYPOCRITES 08 08/02/08 - 08:07 am
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John Paul, why the attitude

John Paul, why the attitude with me? You made the mistake. By the way IF I did have a problem with you, you can bet your azz I would let you know.

johnpaulquincy
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johnpaulquincy 08/02/08 - 08:12 am
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Yes firefighter, I made the

Yes firefighter, I made the mistake and you, as usual were the first to pounce. I made a mistake and corrected it, if it were you, you can bet you AZZ you would have left your STUPID AZZ COMMENT POSTED!

farfaraway
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farfaraway 08/02/08 - 08:15 am
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This isn't an isolated case.

This isn't an isolated case. This goes on even right under your nose. Do you call, when you see a bunch of kids sitting on a front porch all day when school is in? Not everyone want to get involved. We as a americans help everyone else in other countries and forget the ones that live in the united states. There is one question....if the police are patroling the areas on routine drive by, why weren't they spotted several years ago?

johnpaulquincy
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johnpaulquincy 08/02/08 - 08:18 am
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Far, I believe they lived

Far, I believe they lived down a dirt lane far off the beaten path, but that is no excuse. As one poster mentioned. If the tax asesor is doing his job, he has been there, more than once!
For that matter, who own the land????????????????, HMMMMMMMMMMMM

redapples
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redapples 08/02/08 - 08:28 am
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This is the type of situation

This is the type of situation that really inflames me! There are some people taking every kind of public assistance known while they don't work, wear designer garb and drive nice cars! then there are these people floundering outside the fringe of society. "The system" is beyond repair at this point!! I hope our next President (regardless of party) makes issues like this - domestic policy - a higher priority!

farfaraway
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farfaraway 08/02/08 - 08:33 am
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John- I would say the tax

John- I would say the tax assessor!

johnpaulquincy
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johnpaulquincy 08/02/08 - 08:35 am
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far, either way.

far, either way.

johnpaulquincy
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johnpaulquincy 08/02/08 - 08:37 am
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Ok hamer, I've left you and

Ok hamer, I've left you and your stupid post alone. I guess it's time to quit. As I noticed another poster's comments awhile back, get off the misions computer and go back to your porch in Harrisburg. Did I get that right?

HYPOCRITES 08
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HYPOCRITES 08 08/02/08 - 08:39 am
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I thought that you were that

I thought that you were that same IDIOT. You wish I lived at a mission. I know it bothers you that a Black person makes more than you do. This is my last post to you under this topic because it is not about you or me.

HYPOCRITES 08
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HYPOCRITES 08 08/02/08 - 08:41 am
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check me out on rant and

check me out on rant and raves. HEWHOCHANGEHISNAMEEVERYFEWSECONDS

farfaraway
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farfaraway 08/02/08 - 08:41 am
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Guys lets not fight....This

Guys lets not fight....This is what is wrong with the world...everyone wants to fight all the time and not take time out to help the fellow man. We as a country should be ready to help everyone. There are several times that people state its not my problem....it is, we are going down as a country. We are behind in education and social skills from other countries. We have to look outside of our windows and help our fellow man. I know there are several people who take advantage of the situation and they need to have thier butts kicked. When someone needs help, help them. Don't feel someone else will help them. We have gotten to scared to help and need to do something to correct it. It doesn't take much to give a little.

NanaPorter
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NanaPorter 08/02/08 - 08:42 am
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It's so easy to place blame!

It's so easy to place blame! We still don't know the whole story but we sure to love to throw the judgements out. I agree with "KK". By the grace of God many of us were born in better situations. I would rather my tax dollars went to help this family. Obviously, if the mother had taken her children to school, it wouldn't have taken long for "the system" to swoop in and "fix things" by taking the children and breaking up the family.

Let's stop judging and find out how we can help these people.

And the two of you fighting on this forum are detracting from the issue. Grow up!

farfaraway
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farfaraway 08/02/08 - 08:51 am
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DFAC and the foster parients

DFAC and the foster parients have thier hands full. Its not long before schools starts. The foster parents have to teach personal and socail skills. Then, how are the schools going to determine what level the kids are in. The kids need to be schooled with someone who has the patients to get them up to speed.

Farful
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Farful 08/02/08 - 09:13 am
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It would be interesting to

It would be interesting to know which slumlord owns the property.

uscbelle
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uscbelle 08/02/08 - 09:19 am
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This is a very sad situation.

This is a very sad situation. These children have a very long road ahead of them, it will be like transitioning to a different culture overnight. I pray that the foster parents of these children are very patient loving individuals. And as a homeschooling mom of 5, I am heartbroken that homeschooling was used to explain such abuse. Homeschooling is a wonderful thing when used appropriately and the really funny thing is that right now with these children so far behind it would really be a wonderful option to get them started on their educational path so they are not overwhelmed. Homeschooling is usually a very loving choice that benefits the children tremendously. My children are 2 yrs ahead of their public school counterparts.

I wish the news agencies would not publish who these people are. These children have a right to privacy, and with this plastered all over the news how are they supposed to exercise that right? No good can come of us knowing who exactly these people are, allow them to be annonymous and ask for help for them.....but don't exploit them to fulfill some need of superiority.

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