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"Appalling" only begins to describe child neglect – The Virginian

Press releases usually are tedious. Government press releases are the worst. Self-serving claptrap. Written in stilted bureaucratese.

I’ve been reading these communiques for more than 30 years. Until this week, I’d never seen one that contained the word “appalling.”

In an attempt to convey the horror that the Suffolk police stumbled upon during a gang-related investigation Tuesday, city spokeswoman Diana Klink fired off an attention-getting bulletin that told of two children, babies really, discovered in “appalling conditions.”

According to the release, the police were executing a search warrant on a house on North Division Street when they heard cries from a dilapidated camper in the backyard. The cops forced their way through padlocked doors, where they found a 2-year-old girl and 6-month-old boy. Alone. Clad in dirty diapers and covered with flea bites.

The camper had no air conditioning, and there was a stench from feces and urine-soaked bedding. The floorboards were rotten and the place was infested with bugs.

I apologize if you’re reading this over breakfast.

This really is appalling. Cats take better care of their young.

Police say the baby boy was having trouble breathing, so it’s not a stretch to say that had the officers not found the siblings, the two might have perished in that hellhole on wheels.

According to police, their mother, Jeronda Wilson, 23, and the person described as their sometimes babysitter, Laron Huston Neal, 22, face felony charges and are being held without bond. In an interview from jail with The Pilot’s Hattie Brown Garrow on Thursday, Wilson insisted she’d done nothing wrong and accused the police of lying about conditions at the camper. She said her baby had asthma and bronchitis.

But no excuse ever will explain how this horror – as described by Suffolk police – happened to two helpless kids.

If only it was an isolated case. But it isn’t. It’s simply the most recent.

In 2011, a little Gloucester girl was found living in a cage fashioned out of a crib. She was naked, starving, covered in filth and suffering from bed sores. News reports said she was so hungry she was eating her own skin.

Her parents, Shannon and Brian Gore, were recently sentenced to 30 years in prison. The child has since been placed with a family.

Then there was 10-month-old Braxton Taylor. We learned about Braxton’s mistreatment only after he died in 2010. When Braxton breathed his last, he was bruised, weighed less than he had at 6 months old, and his testicles had been crushed. His foster mother, Kathleen Ganiere, is serving 10 years for voluntary manslaughter.

Appalling. Every single one of these cases.

Kerry Dougherty, 757-446-2306,,



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