CLAYSBURG - Children's bikes still sit in the yard of the empty, white-and-maroon trailer home on Metzgar Lane where, according to police, children as young as 5 years old were raped, sexually assaulted and exposed to pornography over a period of months.
While many neighbors said they didn't know the extent of Tabatha Partsch's alleged criminal behavior, her sexual proclivities and alleged willingness to let children see pornography seemed to be common knowledge among neighborhood youngsters.
Partsch, 39, was charged last week with 18 felonies related to child abuse.
Neighbors said she had been a "baby sitter" for children for years.
She and her husband, Patrick Partsch, faced criminal charges in Cambria and Blair counties over the past several years: In 1994, she pleaded guilty to corrupting minors, according to court documents.
"I wouldn't let him walk outside," former neighbor Rick Sawyer said of his son, now 9. "She'd be down at the bus stop."
Sawyer, who has since moved three-quarters of a mile from Partsch's home, said on Monday he'd personally experienced her strange behavior in a 2010 incident that led to criminal charges and a brief jail sentence for Partsch - when she was known as Tabatha Sossong.
Sawyer said Sossong approached him and his spouse, Lisa Beck, while they were doing yard work. As Sossong rambled incoherently, the couple went inside to avoid her.
"All of a sudden, she
didn't like us," he said.
Shortly thereafter, Sawyer said, Sossong threw several large rocks at his truck, causing thousands of dollars in damage. After the couple went to the authorities, Sawyer said they found a note on their door that read: "YOU'RE DEAD," followed by an expletive.
Sossong later pleaded guilty to three misdemeanors and was ordered to pay Sawyer for the damage, according to court records.
Other neighbors this week described equally strange behavior: Partsch throwing marshmallows in her yard, hosting unfamiliar children at her house for weeks at a time and even bragging about police searches of her home.
Neighbors who declined to be identified described a filthy living environment at the home, with food left out and mold growing in cupboards. Police reports described urine-covered floors in the basement, which Partsch allegedly called the "party place" and where she provided alcohol to children.
Despite the rumors and strange behavior, several neighbors said they didn't know the full extent of Partsch's alleged crimes until she was charged last week. The case, and another, unrelated child-abuse case in Claysburg last week, took some by surprise.
"We had to ask our kids [whether they'd suffered abuse]," one neighbor said. "Do you know how uncomfortable that is?"
Since Partsch's arrest, another said, strangers have circled the neighborhood in cars, some looking at the house where she and her husband lived.
The night she was arrested, Patrick Partsch, who was named in police reports but not charged, could be seen burning items in front of the house, a neighbor said. Soon after, signs for a yard sale appeared at the residence.
He reportedly drove away Sunday and hasn't been seen since.
Tabatha Partsch is in Blair County Prison, awaiting a hearing Thursday before Magisterial District Judge Craig Ormsby.
"We knew there were a lot of kids going down there," said one neighbor. "I'm just glad we kept our kids from going there."