Police: City man living in squalor with child

Shimko arrested for endangering 3-year-old; also faces drug charge

From Mirror staff reports

A city man is behind bars after police say he was living in squalor with a 3-year-old child.

Steven J. Shimko, 35, of 413 10th St., was arrested Friday by Altoona police after a call for a welfare check about 11 a.m. Friday.

According to the charges, the caller told the 911 dispatcher that there was a man living in the basement and “there was an odor coming from the basement that was causing the upstairs occupants to have some trouble breathing.”

Police indicated that when they knocked on the door of the home, Shimko answered the door. Shimko was wanted on an outstanding 2018 drug warrant, police noted, but denied he called 911.

Police said Shimko rambled on about not being sure if there were people living in the basement and “about things being put in the water” and that there was wax on the windows.

Shimko gave police permission to search the basement and officers noted it was “remarkably clean and empty.”

Shimko also claimed there was smoke coming from the heating vents although police couldn’t see the smoke, and in the kitchen, Shimko had removed one of the vent covers with a large kitchen knife that he left on the floor within reach of his 3-year-old child.

Police said Shimko also made claims about all the appliances being burned, along with pictures that were lying around the home, although officers noted none of it was true. Shimko also said his cellphone was tapped.

Shimko’s girlfriend was upstairs and made similar claims, although police said the woman suffers from a brain tumor and that Shimko was her caregiver.

She told police that Shimko normally doesn’t act like that but he had taken some sort of illegal drugs.

Police noted the home was in deplorable condition with trash and clothing scattered everywhere and after a Blair County Children, Youth & Families caseworker arrived, the decision was made to remove the child from the home.

Shimko was taken into custody on the 2018 drug case and also has been charged with felony endangering the welfare of a child.

Bail was set at $15,000 cash on the drug case and 10 percent of $10,000 on the endangering the welfare of a child charge.

Shimko was placed in Blair County Prison and is slated to appear at Tyrone District Court on Feb. 5 for a preliminary hearing on the drug case.

A preliminary hearing on the charges filed Friday in the endangerment case is set for Feb. 6 at Central Court.