Police have arrested a Nashville mother and charged her with aggravated child neglect after her four young children were found living in “deplorable” conditions. She was also charged with 26 counts of aggravated animal cruelty.
Police made the discovery Thursday morning while responding to reports of horses and other animals running loose in Antioch. When an officer arrived on the scene, he found Dorothy Kifer, 37, trying to herd horses out of the road near her home. When the officer noticed the filthy conditions, he called in additional personnel.
The four children, ages 19 months, two, four, and six appeared to be listless and covered in mud, dog feces, and other animal feces, according to Nashville Metro Police Department spokeswoman Kris Mumford. The children were transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center for evaluation and released to Department of Child Services custody Thursday afternoon.
Fifteen malnourished, underweight dogs were also removed from Kifer’s property. Three others were found dead, one of which had already begun to decompose. Eight horses, chickens, a donkey and a goat were also rounded up by Animal Control.
Neighbors claimed they’ve tried to assist Kifer, but that she never accepted their offers to help. "She says she’s doing the best she can, which she probably is, but when your best isn’t good enough then maybe she’s just overwhelmed,” said Honna St. John, a neighbor.
Metro Health officials inspected the property and found unsanitary living conditions and no running water in the home. Nor did the house have air conditioning. They also found sewage and wastewater on the ground.
“Hazmat uniforms had to be worn, gas masks. There was food garbage, it was absolutely deplorable. The children were filthy with feces and mud. There was no furniture; just heartbreaking to know that children were living there,” said Mumford.
Kifer’s husband Jesse—a member of the Tennessee National Guard—just returned from serving in Iraq on Thursday.