The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

National News

October 9, 2013

Parents of malnourished boys make court appearance

DENVER — A Denver couple accused of starving their four young sons and keeping them in a filthy apartment strewn with cat feces, urine and flies have been advised of felony child abuse charges against them.

The boys are 2, 4, 5 and 6. Documents say all four have been placed in protective care and have undergone hospital exams that found they are malnourished, not toilet trained and can only communicate in grunts.

Thirty-five-year-old Lorinda Baley, who is free on bond, appeared in court for the first time Tuesday dressed in a black pant suit.

Her husband, 66-year-old Wayne Sperling, is in custody and sat with about a dozen other defendants behind glass. He was dressed in a yellow jail uniform.

They did not enter pleas.

The couple pleaded guilty in June 2009 to misdemeanor child abuse, according to the affidavit first obtained by KMGH-TV. The ABC affiliate also reported that police found clutter and unsanitary conditions at the home last year.

The current charges against the parents come after an investigation that began Sept. 29 when Bailey took her youngest son to St. Joseph's Children's Hospital for a cut on his forehead that she said happened after a fall. An emergency room doctor informed authorities that the child was unwashed and smelled like cigarette smoke, prompting a welfare check by a Denver Human Services case worker. Bruising behind the child's right ear appeared consistent with pinching, the doctor said.

Denver police Officer N. Rocco-McKeel accompanied the case worker to the apartment at her request and reported finding five cats and feces on the floor throughout the apartment and the "strong odor of a decomposing animal." The officer noted that flies covered "every surface" in one room and that he couldn't determine any age or developmental differences between the three eldest children.

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