January 7, 2012 at 3:51 AM EST - Updated June 26 at 6:17 AM
FT. PIERCE, FL (WFLX) A Treasure Coast couple is facing felony charges after St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office investigators said a husband and wife left their three young children and dirty and unsafe conditions at their Fort Pierce home.
The suspects, Elizabeth Yeary, 33, and Robert Yeary, 28, are each facing three felony counts of child neglect.
Florida's Department of Children and Families has gotten involved and, at first, took the three children into DCF custody. A DCF representative now says the children are under the care of extended family. The Yearlys were arrested Thursday afternoon, after investigators said the pair had failed to properly care for their own children who are ages 2, 3 and 4.
The first of the authorities to arrive at the North 44th Street home was an officer from St. Lucie County Animal Control who was called to check on the welfare of several dogs. In the backyard, she reported finding piles of trash and dog feces right next to children's toys. The Animal Control officer called the sheriff's office, which sent a deputy inside the home.
According to law enforcement documents, the deputy reported seeing and smelling more trash, rotten food, dog and human feces. In a bedroom, he reported finding three unbathed children under a soiled blanket not wearing any clothes.
At nearby Miracle Prayer Temple, Sandy Mack works to help local children who have home lives that are much less than ideal. "Pray for the best for the kids. Pray for the best for the family. Pray that things get better," he said after hearing of this latest case of alleged child neglect. "Having structure is very important and sometimes they may not have that perfect environment, that perfect structure," he said. "All we can do is pray and hope for the best for the kids and the parents."
The Yeary family has been investigated by DCF before. The agency placed the children in temporary custody on Thursday and later decided to allow extended family to care for them while a more permanent situation is figured out. Along with the children being removed from the home, four dogs and nine puppies were also taken away. The suspects have already been released from jail after each of them posted $7,500 in bond money.
"It's very important for a kid to have that; that structure at home, somebody to come home to, that they respect and love and that they get that respect and love back," said Mack, who works for Project R.O.C.K. The program is supported by leaders and funded by the Children Services Council of St. Lucie County. Project R.O.C.K. aims to provide a safe and educational environment for youth who are suspended from school.