Police: Roaches infest filthy house

An Altoona woman faces felony charges after police allegedly uncovered a cockroach-infested house of filth on 23rd Street.

Jennina R. Pratt, 411 23rd St., was arraigned on five counts of endangering the welfare of a child after Altoona police arrived at Pratt’s home about 9:30 p.m. Thursday to find her five children “sitting in the living room with roaches crawling on them and their clothes,” Patrolman Nichole Douglas noted in court records.

Police said cockroaches were in every part of the house, even “pouring out of the oven and crawling on the dishes” in the kitchen.

Police indicated the home reeked of cat urine and that the cockroach infestation was immediately apparent after officers walked in the door.

The living room floor was covered with strewn clothing; animal urine was on the floors throughout the home; and there was rotting food in the kitchen sink, on the counters and in the refrigerator, according to police.

The children’s legs were covered with bites, police said, as they sat on the living room floor and played “kill the roach,” Douglas pointed out.

Upstairs, officers allegedly encountered animal feces in the hallway, and in the children’s bedroom, “bugs were seeping out of the mattress and box springs,” police described in Pratt’s arrest papers. When the mattress was moved, “hundreds of roaches came running out” from between the box spring and mattress, police said, and the children’s beds were also covered with dirt, mold and urine.

Police said the infestation also included maggots, flies and fleas.

Police said conditions inside the house appeared to have degraded over “an extended period” of time.

Several cats, some in cages, were in the home and an emaciated dog was found tied up on the back porch, according to police. The malnourished dog was found on a short leash with no food or water. Its bones were protruding from its back, and it appeared to be in “very poor health,” police alleged. A summary charge of cruelty to animals was filed along with the felony counts, records show.

The children were removed from the home and taken to a safe place, according to police.

Pratt remains in Blair County Prison in lieu of 10 percent of $30,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.