Authorities had been getting calls about screaming children at a house at 1745 County Road 75 in the western part of the county, just east of Daytona North, or the Mondex. When deputies got there after 1 this morning, the scene in and around the house, and the condition of the two toddlers and a newborn they witnessed there, resulted in the arrest of their parents, Christina Mary Coe, 26, and Gilbert Bridewell, 27, on felony child-neglect charges.
The children are 2, 1 and 7 days old.
You could hear the child wailing as the sheriff’s deputy approached the house–not necessarily an unusual sound from a child, though a lot was amiss the further in the deputy approached, starting with the distressing conditions around the house. it looked like a garage sale after a windstorm had upended everything. The child is then heard yelling for “mommy,” and banging something that would later be determined to be a juice cup: the child was asking for a drink.
A groggy-looking Christina Mary Coe, 26–it was past 1 this morning–then opened the door, asking if the Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies were looking for something. “Yeah, you,” one of them replies. They ask her about the children and the sounds of crying and screaming.
“They’re playing,” Coe tells them, with the windows open.
“They’re not playing, ma’am,” a deputy tells her. “We’re getting complaints, they feel like there’s children in distress over here,” the other deputy says. She tells them the 2 and 3-year-old are loud and tend to scream.
“Is anybody supervising them?” a deputy asks. She tells him she was “just in there getting their stuff.”
“So there’s like 10,000 choking hazards in there, that they’re locked in that room and nobody is in there supervising them as they’re screaming for the whole neighborhood to call us?” the deputy tells Coe. “It apparently has not been the first time from all your neighbors calling in, saying they hear this multiple times a week.” She tells them it’s a safe environment.
“I’m not enthused so far,” the deputy tells her. In accordance with law, the Sheriff’s Office does not release body cam footage from inside a residence. Bu a deputy described what he saw inside: “As I entered the residence, I observed trash scattered along the floor of all bedrooms, and the rooms were in disarray. While walking through the residence, I observed numerous cockroaches walking along the floor, walls, fridge as well as the beds. It should be noted, while in the master bedroom I observed a pacifier which was for [one of the children]. The pacifier had multiple cockroaches nearby, and there were feces scattered along the bed.”
The children themselves were not in a more hygienic state, according to the deputy’s report, their diapers soiled with waste, the bath in the house–which their mother said had been used the night before–looking as if it had not been used in a long time. The tub was dry and covered with dust. A Department of Children and Families employee was summoned to the scene, and the three children were placed in the care of an aunt in Bunnell.
“I am so glad that we were able to get these kids out of this house before someone was injured or became seriously ill as a result of the conditions inside the home,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. “Between the trash, bugs, and the human excrement found inside the home, this situation could have had a tragic ending. Hopefully, DCF and other agencies will help these parents and children get the help they need. It is unfortunate these conditions and the parent’s lack of actions deteriorated to a criminal case.”
Coe and Bridewell were being held at the Flagler County jail. Bond hadn’t been set yet this afternoon.