A 33-year-old Waukesha woman was charged last week with child neglect, accused of allowing her four children to live in squalor without adequate access to food.
Julie A. Bayless was charged on Sept. 11 in Waukesha County Circuit Court with child neglect, a misdemeanor which carries a maximum sentence of nine months in prison and $10,000 in fines.
According to the criminal complaint, an officer with the Waukesha City Police Department received a call on May 13 from a Salvation Army employee about potential child neglect.
She said that the children, 14-year-old twins, an 11-year-old and 7-year-old, regularly came to the Salvation Army and lived at a home on the 400 block of Madison Street in Waukesha.
The officer visited Bayless' residence and observed an extension cord running from the basement to the upper unit where the defendant lived with her children. The officer noted upon entering the residence an overwhelming smell of urine and found the floor was covered in dirty clothing, drug paraphernalia and extension cords. The children slept on stained mattresses without bedding, the officer noted.
Bayless told the officer that she is currently unemployed and living with her boyfriend, who was at work at the time. She said that they were behind on utility payments and the power was shut off, so they were borrowing power from the downstairs tenants using extension cords.
The officer noted that various marijuana pipes and paraphernalia were scattered around the apartment and Bayless said that she did smoke marijuana regularly.
Bayless' 7-year-old boy was home sick when the officer investigated. The boy told police that domestic violence was common in the household and the children did all the cooking and cleaning themselves, the complaint states.
The boy had a burn on his leg which was, "large, red and oozing some fluids." The boy told the officer that he had spilled some hot water on himself while cooking and the wound had not been treated.
He said that Bayless and her boyfriend would often purchase Taco Bell for themselves and will then tell the four children to find their own food.
A fire department code enforcement inspector was called in and concluded the children could not live in the house until the power was restored, the apartment was cleaned and the hot water heater was hooked up properly.
Bayless is expected to make an initial appearance in court on Sept. 30.
Bayless' boyfriend is not currently facing any charges in relation to the alleged neglect and as such will not be named.