A woman accused of letting her five children live in a house of filth is out of jail.
Friends of Jennina R. Pratt, 29, of 411 23rd St., said the single mother who works and is a full-time college student is going through a rough time, including battling depression.
Altoona police allege Pratt and her five children were living in a cockroach infested home where animals had soiled the carpet throughout, and rotting food littered the kitchen. Pratt was jailed Aug. 9 after her arraignment on five counts of felony endangering the welfare of a child and a summary count of cruelty to animals.
She waived her preliminary hearing on the charges on Wednesday. The court modified her bail to allow Pratt out to get her life on track, said her court-appointed attorney Mark Zearfaus.
"Keeping her in jail wasn't going to help anything," said Zearfaus, who said he is hoping Pratt will be accepted into the county's Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program, a stipulation of which would be to attend parenting classes.
"Everyone agrees she was not a criminal mind," Zearfaus added. He said Pratt said cockroaches were present when she moved into the house, a rental, and he said the children are staying with Pratt's mother until she can get her living situation under control.
"I told her to get on it and talk to her landlord and get professional help a professional exterminator in there," said Zearfaus.
Theresa, who asked that her last name not be used, said Pratt is a close friend and a loving mother who is overwhelmed.
"She's the best," said Theresa. "I know her house went south completely, but she's trying everything she can do within her powers
to make this right."
Theresa said when Pratt moved into the rental, there were 15 cats in the house, and she started off in a hole trying to keep the place clean.
She's been struggling to get rid of the bed bugs the cause of the bites on her children's legs and because of the infestation, Pratt has lost most of her possessions.
"She needs help," the friend said.
Friend Nicky Lowe, 32, said Pratt has been left with nothing because of the infestation and is upset by how she was characterized by police. Lowe said the conditions in the house were extremely poor when she moved in and that Pratt is a a great mom who helps at her church, works hard to support her children after her divorce and goes to school full time.
"Walk a mile in her shoes and then judge her," Lowe said.
Pratt's formal arraignment in Blair County Court is slated for Sept. 20.