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Child Neglect Charges for 3 As Toddlers Are Found Among Roaches in B-Section House

| July 21, 2018

child neglect charges

From left, Michael Choate Lynn Kulka and Rene Marchetta.

Last Updated: 4:11 p.m.

Three residents of 12 Brelyn Place B in Palm Coast were booked at the Flagler County jail on child neglect charges late Friday night after a Department of Children and Families investigation found three toddlers at the house living in abject conditions, without air conditioning and among an infestation of roaches.

The children involved are 4, 1 and 4-months old.

Lynn Marie Kulka, 52, Michael Alan Choate, 24, and Rene Elizabeth Marchetta 26, each face three counts of felony child neglect and assault, and were booked on $15,000 bond each. The investigation is continuing and more charges are possibly pending.

Kulka is Marchetta’s mother. Marchetta is the mother of the three children, two of whom are believed to be Choate’s.

A Flagler County Sheriff’s release states the arrests resulted from a two-week investigation triggered by a DCF visit to the house on July 3, when DCF was investigating an allegation of child abuse. Deputies assisted DCF at the time. DCF was alerted to the claim after the 4-month-old child was brought to a hospital with multiple insect bites and bone fractures.

The 4-month-old child, according to the lead detective who investigated the case, was taken to Florida Hospital Ormond “where she was found to have possible broken bones, severe dehydration, a urinary tract infection, bruises on her chest and face, and bug bites all over her outer extremities.” The child was found to have a “possible healing fracture to her right femur and a rib on her right side as well as a concerning bruises on her chest and face.”

That was at 9:26 p.m. on July 3. Less than an hour later, the detective was investigating the issue at the Brelyn Place duplex, where a DCF official had already taken temporary custody of the two other children, according to the investigator’s summary.

Kulka told the detective she had no knowledge of the child’s fracture and attributed the bruising on the child’s face to a time when she was playing with her 2-year-old sister, who threw a hard toy at her without knowing it would cause harm. Marchetta too said she had no knowledge of her child’s previous fractures before taking her to the hospital. That trip, Marchetta said, was necessitated only because the child was “becoming fussy, would not eat and appeared lethargic,” according to the investigative narrative. Choate described himself shocked to learn of any broken bones.

The investigation revealed all three children inside the residence were living in deplorable conditions. The home was infested with bugs, so severely that hundreds of cockroaches were seen crawling on the floors, walls, ceilings, cabinets, and on all of the furniture including the children’s mattresses, playpens, and bassinet. All three children in the home were covered in bug bites.

The temperature inside was estimated at 90 degrees. Marchetta told authorities the AC had been out a week to two weeks.

“As I walked further into the residence, I observed it to be in complete disarray and what appeared to be bugs crawling around on the walls and floor,” the detective reported. “Initially I did not notice the severity of the bug infestation due to the lights not being on in the living room. Once the lights were turned on by Rene, I observed thousands of roaches (from very small sized roaches to large sized roaches) crawling on the floors, walls, ceilings and all furniture to include the children’s mattress, playpen, and [the younger child’s] bassinet.”

The detective’s report continues: “It should be noted, during my very brief walk into this residence I had to keep constant movement to deter any roaches from crawling on my shoes and up my legs. Each step taken inside the residence it appeared impossible to not step on deceased and/or living roaches. It appeared the linens in the bassinet and playpen were unkempt and unwashed for quite some time with roaches crawling around within the linen. The children’s mattress [one of the children] utilizes every night was bare, torn with large holes, and had roaches crawling on it as it was leaning against another small couch.”

Kulka told authorities she chose not to address the air conditioning issue because she did not want the landlord to discover the living conditions in the house and face eviction. “She has been attempting to exterminate them with store bought bug bombs however, each attempt has been unsuccessful because the infestation is simply overwhelming,” the report states.

Detective Andrew Cangialosi inspected the house with detective George Hristakopoulos. “Corporal Hristakopoulos and I observed roaches crawling on the counters, the canned food and cabinet doors, and the trashcan that was full of trash,” Cangialosi reported. “The recently washed dishes had roaches and other bugs crawling on them and the
floor of the kitchen was completely covered with very small roaches scattering in all directions.”

DCF took custody of the children for relocation elsewhere.

Marchetta and Choate had been living with Kulka for a year, sleeping in the living room, because Marchetta’s three siblings were using the house’s bedrooms. Two of the siblings are reported to have mental disabilities. Marchetta and Choate shared the couch, one child slept in a playpen, another in a bassinet, a third on a mattress on the floor.

Choate told the detective he, Marchetta and Kulka are the only adults who watch the children. The disciplining of children involves time-outs, Choate said, with no smacking of two of the children, though the third would have her hand smacked when misbehaving. The youngest child has only had one follow-up appointment with a physician and none since “due to the previous doctor’s office being rude,” according to Choate, as reported by the detective.

“This is a traumatic situation for all of the children involved,” Sheriff Rick Staly is quoted as saying in the release. “The children who were living in this house were subjected to deplorable living conditions. I’m very proud of the hard work our investigators did to put this case together and thankful that the children are now safe from these three individuals who obviously don’t know how to be parents or properly care for children.”

Kulka bonded out a little over an hour after she was jailed, and was back at work to Steak and Shake in Palm Coast today. Marchetta also works at Steak and Shake.

A family member who currently has custody of the children disputed the account in the sheriff’s report. “Choate is the one who wouldn’t get the ac fixed. He also denied the exterminator access to the home which Kulka did not find out until the investigation/arrest,” the family member told FlaglerLive in a text. “Choate wouldn’t clean up to have ac get fix. He did not work while kulka worked in the am and marchetta worked in the pm.”

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61 Responses for “Child Neglect Charges for 3 As Toddlers Are Found Among Roaches in B-Section House”

  1. Brian says:

    From the looks in their eyes I’d say that living in the bugs has them all bugged out.

  2. Just me says:

    What is wrong with people? I am so glad those babies are awesome from those monsters.

  3. Laura Shaver says:

    Worried that a relative that is making excuses for them has the children……..

  4. Really says:

    Kids hsving kids

  5. Daphne says:

    Sad for the children. What a disgrace these three adults are. I hope the family member who has custody takes good care of them.

  6. Lisa says:

    If they don’t keep their own house clean dont think they will keep their workplace clean. Just saying.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Horrible disgusting people. Poor kids. Fractures in a 4 month old? How is that even possible.

    I would not eat at Steak n Shake until these two are gone. They can bring the roaches into the restaurant.

  8. Anonymous says:

    That is exactly what I was thinking.

  9. Barbara Hall says:

    Where was DCF before this? This could not have been first visit. These children should have been removed sooner. I have children removed for less.

  10. Richard says:

    Just another dysfunctional family living in disgusting conditions in Palm Coast. I guess that times have changed. I remember when neighbors actually cared about and looked out for the people living in the neighborhood. Have computers,mobile phones & electronic devices, etc. plus social media isolated people from their neighbors such that things like this can go on without anyone knowing about it or much less caring about it?

  11. Anonymous says:

    Horrible! Some people should never reproduce! They all have drug eyes too😤

  12. Anonymous says:

    yeah, i know this family personally. nobody is making excuses. the person who took in all 3 children already has 4 kids of her own. she already has enough to deal with. i’ve also met these children and they are way worse than what flagler live is telling. no excuses anywhere except from the 3 arrested.

  13. kassidy santimarino says:

    i know this family personally and there are no excuses being made anywhere. this family took in 3 kids while already having 4 kids of their own. the ONLY people making excuses would be the 3 arrested. i also met all 3 kids and they are far worse than what flagler live is telling.

  14. Concerned Citizen says:

    Plenty enough blame for all involved. They are all adults and responsible for their actions. Why would DFC allow the children to go to a family member who is now making excuses for them?

    Won’t be eating at that Steak And Shale as long as they are still employed..

  15. Grossed out says:

    Won’t be going to Steak ‘n Shake anytime soon. How they all get fired.

  16. Richard says:

    I have never eaten at ANY Steak & Shake and never intend to EVER! Far better restaurants around town than that one.

  17. Miss Aug. says:

    I do not understand, how== CRIMINAL NEGLECT and ABUSE OF A CHILD,

    Are NOT the Charges !!!??? !!!

  18. Jolene R Dehart says:

    No knowledge of how the kid got broken bones. No knowledge of this, no knowledge of that. Actually it seems just absolutely no knowledge. It appears from the mugshots though that they know where the drugs are.

  19. Geezer says:

    The horror! Hell on Earth for those little kids… WTF?

  20. Anonymous says:


  21. Born and Raised Here says:

    I just can’t beleive how the neighbors didn’t know this was going on. Peoplejust aren’t neighborly in Palm Coast. I lived here all my life and theres not a day that goes by that I don’t speak or check on my neighbors. Sad.

  22. Just a Mom says:

    No more Steak N Shake for me

  23. Anonymous says:

    Did they do a tox screen on the residents?

  24. Bunnell boy says:

    I see the wemen work at steak and shake in palm coast. I’ve just ate there for the last tine!

  25. Sorry not sorry says:

    Kids having kids? Uhh no, I’m sorry I had 3 kids by the time I was 23 and cared for them and loved them enough to have enough common sense to not allow them to ever even be exposed to an environment like this. This…if you can’t tell by the look in their eyes, is straight up a result of narcotic abuse. Mmmm meth! When you’re psychologically and physically addicted to such anrcotics you tend to let go on your own self care…and I mean…if you can’t take care of yourself then how would you be able to take care of anyone else, let alone a child, or 3? More evidence that would support drug addiction in all 3 of these healthy looking adults (not), is the mass array of injuries the kids have had inflicted on them. Meth rage can be a b*tch! And if it’s not meth, it’s crack or bath salts. Hope these children get placed in a safe, CLEAN home!

  26. worried grandma says:

    Makes my skin crawl and at the same time my heart breaks for these children. They definitely don’t deserve to have them back.

  27. jim says:

    so the live in a TOTALLY ROACH INFESTED HOUSE….and then go to work each day at STEAK nSHAKE!?!?!?! and to think they r handling ur food!!!!

  28. Anonymous says:

    Take those kids away from them….. Lucky they are not dead!…. Lock all three up

  29. DeeBee says:

    This is a duplex, side B. Wasn’t there someone living in side A? Didn’t they notice any of this; were they not overrun by roaches?

  30. Anonymous says:

    Excuses are not being made, the facts are not all accurate. The facts are awful enough without being changed. All adults in the house are to blame, but these are not all the facts.

  31. Thersa says:

    I know of this family. Let’s see if I read this correctly? After going to the hospital and knowing of the injuries, you waited two weeks to take these children out of the living conditions. You could not put those children in foster care until your investigate was over??? Your so worried about the cockroaches and not the fact that they had old fractures and bruises????? You say that your proud of the investigator and the job they did. Wow. To give them to another family member. Do you understand the phrase , the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Yeah, great job.

  32. Lia says:

    Won’t going back to steak n shake with those two working there. Eeewwww

  33. Pam dm says:

    Well, this makes two more reasons I will never eat at the Steak and Shake in Palm Coast to begin with, again

  34. Sally says:

    No excuses for the neglect and FILTHY..diseased..dangerous home for these poor little children..All 3 would be so much better off adopted and in better homes where people really want the kids and care for them..These are babies!! If these so called “humans” want to live in the filth and bug infested dirty home..let them..BUT..leave the kids out of it..Obviously, these innocent children are only born and are with these nitwit parents..losers..low life..because of welfare payments..and the woman..the Mother of the a real dirtbag..How can she let her children and Grandchildren live like they were..and all the bugs and filth?? What a losing situation..I don’t understand WHY a relative has the kids..I’m sure the relative knew about these conditions and may be as bad as these so called adults are..and maybe worse..The babies should ALL be out of that house and away from ANY family member!!!!! your job..It is amazing that no one reported this mess sooner..and thank goodness for the hospital reporting the poor babies injuries..Just think how this all could have turned out..and no A/C in this heat/humidity..B.S. about the idiot guy not reporting the A/C out because afraid of being kicked out of house..They should ALL be kicked out..WTF?????

  35. Jen says:

    Well I won’t be going to Steak N Shake ever again at least not while they work there! So sorry for kids to be subjected to such an environment! Some people just shouldn’t have kids.

  36. Really says:

    @sorry well in this instance its not the case. Irresponsible kids having kids

  37. woodchuck says:

    Just keep having kids,after all it’s free

  38. Conc citizen says:

    Disgusting. Deplorable. Poor kids.
    Go to FB and look at all of their happy photos. What happened? I freak if I see a cockroach outside but NEVER in my house. Thousands? On the babies? Broken bones too.

    Lock them up and throw away the keys. Stay away from a steak N Shake. They could bring those cockroaches in their handbags.

  39. Jennifer says:

    Healing fractures on a 4 month old child??? That child from day one must know only pain and misery.
    So disgusting and sad for these poor children. As for these adults living in the deplorable conditions with the children , roaches so abundant the officer would not stand in one place too long so the roaches would not crawl up his legs!
    In no way whatsoever are roaches NOT is the women’s belongings when they show up at work at STEAK and SHAKE!!!
    I hope DCF prosecutes these adults and they go to prison!

  40. palmcoaster says:

    This is what happens when accidental pregnancies and or unexpected or unwanted children are born. The innocent creatures suffer the consequences and I wish religious groups will come on their aid first.

  41. Donnie riddle says:

    Made my last pit stop at that steak and shake. I don’t want them people around my food!

  42. PC sucks says:

    The blame always goes to DCF…… how about we blame the parents and their friends and family for not reporting it until now?! DCF cant just barge into your home without a reason. The friends and family are complicit in the absolutely horrific conditions these poor children had to endure…. neighbors too. It’s sad how no one in Palm Coast talks to each other. I swear you could be in your home dead for a year and neighbors wouldn’t know the difference.

  43. Palm Coast Guy says:

    Theresa relax. You act as if the news report or a press release states every single fact about the case. The children were removed from the home immediately by DCF, and the FCSO is still investigating the broken bones of the child. Police have to be able to prove things, they cannot just charge someone for breaking a child’s bones based on a hunch.

  44. Agkistrodon says:

    Kids not fed and un-cared for but I am sure the adults in the house, all had dope, cigarettes and beer……….and probably on welfare to boot.

  45. Jimbo says:

    Stop blaming religion & drugs and anything else but the parents. These people regardless of anything else were disgusting vile people. Children or not this is how they would live. These poor babies suffered their decisions. The only exterminator they need is for themselves. I hope the babies make it to a sound home with loving people and receive whatever therapy they need.

  46. Outsider says:

    Theresa, re-read the article. It clearly states the children were taken into temporary custody July 3, hours after the child was brought to the ER. The first thing I thought when I saw these pics was “meth heads.” Every one of them should have their limbs broken with a baseball bat; let’s see how they like it.

  47. Anon says:

    I currently work at Steak N Shake and if these people are not fired I WILL be leaving, what terrible people. If these people are not fired NO ONE GO TO STEAK N SHAKE!!

  48. Anonymous says:

    I am currently employed at Steak ‘n Shake and if these low life’s are not fired I will be leaving . What terrible people!!

  49. kathryn says:

    The family name is very familiar as I was the Flagler County Special Olympic Coordinator for many years. I am sure there are Adults with Disabilities also living in the home that they are getting SSI
    and Medicaid for them. What about them? They are as innocent as the children. I am hoping that the agency for Person’s With Disabilities are investigating also.

  50. JustTheTruth says:

    Scum bags, stiff jail sentence, lock them up and throw the key away. Steak N Shake just lost a lot of customers from what I am reading here.

  51. Perplexed says:

    This story is disturbing on so many different levels:
    The rental market in Palm Coast perpetuates these types of stories. People scooping up inexpensive houses to rent them out not caring who rents them as long as they get paid. The last 10 police stories in my neighborhood involved rental tenants.
    Where was Social Services with handicapped adults living in these conditions.
    Thank goodness we have the law enforcement team that we do. You probably don’t realize how hard they work. I have seen them staked on Sunday mornings taking out the trash. This kind of story is hard to read. Imagine being the deputies that have to walk around and witness the injuries, and filth. Not easy.
    Why was a currently overwhelmed relative, barely making it, given these children.

  52. Anon says:

    Those poor babies! The best way to get rid of roaches in my opinion is to spray the Bayer antibacterial bug killer all around the outside of the house, and put the large Combat roach traps/killers in all four corners of each room, switching them out every 2 months. It worked for my poor mother who had parkinsons and couldn’t get around – she had a terrible infestation for years (gross), and when I put them down around her house, within 2 months nearly every roach was gone. Don’t use the others, they really don’t work that well.

  53. Agkistrodon says:

    Rental homes do NOT cause this. I have rented for years, by choice. I keep my house spotless. My children are extremely well fed, with healthy meals, and there are no roach infestations in my current home or ANY other one I rented. When you make statements like that, you are guilty of prejudging others, based on these Dirt Bags. What causes this is, Lack of Education, Children having children, and people who are more concerned with their habits, than their children. I have know Junkies who owned their own homes, as well as fall down drunks. That does not make all homeowners drunks and junkies does it?

  54. Anonymous says:

    If there are vulnerable people with developmental disabilities in that home, state authorities at the Health Department and Department of Heath and Human Services should be involved– in addition to Child Protective Services which should already be involved due to the ongoing child abuse issues.

  55. Tonda says:

    I understand the frustration that everyone has, it is heartbreaking to think that small children had no choice but to live in these conditions. However, Sally, that does not give you or anyone the right to automatically assume that the relatives who have the children now, are filthy, or had knowledge of what was happening inside that home. I know the relatives very well, and have spent time with these 3 children. The relatives you speak off are not in close contact with the family and also dont reside in the county. As a matter of fact, hasnt been that long that have actually resided in Florida! They are an outstanding military family that has 4 children of their own, and graciously accepted 3 more with open and loving arms! Overwhelmed and barely making it….not sure where those statements come from but that is inaccurate. Its not my place to put the relatives financial business out there but, i will say, being a part of the military, they struggle for nothing, and also have excellent insurance to care for the 3 children they have been given. They have already taken the children to doctors and done every possible thing that could be done in this terrible situation. They don’t deserve to be ridiculed by people who dont know them and like to throw around accusations. They are good people who are doing the right thing! Thank god for them!

  56. gmath55 says:

    This is more fun way to get rid of roaches Aron.

  57. A. Nonymous says:

    Agreed…..I rent also by choice for the convenience of having a landlord. My rent is more than most people’s mortgages!

  58. Anonymous says:

    A little birth control can go a long way to prevent situations like this from unfolding for generations..

  59. Anonymous says:

    I hope they get what they deserve those poor kids didn’t deserve to live like that

  60. EsPc says:

    This breaks my heart for these babies. I will never understand why some people can have child after child and some couples try for so long for a baby they would love and dedicate their lives to…I hope they are placed in better homes. Disgusted and angry.

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