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Police say home with 7 children inside was ‘unlivable’; Accused parents disagree

By Meredith Machen, mmachen@wcyb.com
Published On: Mar 11 2013 10:48:07 AM CDT
Updated On: Feb 28 2013 04:25:33 PM CST

A family works to clean up their home after police said it was 'unlivable' for children.

KINGSPORT, Tenn. -

A family works to clean up their home after police said it was 'unlivable' for children.

Four parents face child neglect charges and their seven children, four who are under the age of five, are staying elsewhere.

Kingsport police told us Monday afternoon they received a 911 call expressing concern about the living conditions at a home. When they got there, officers deemed it unfit for children.   

"It's disgusting, quite honestly," said Brad Conkin, an officer with the Kingsport Police Department.

Conkin told us he found the conditions there unlivable for any human.

He showed us pictures of what he said were dirty diapers on a couch and trash scattered everywhere.

Conkin said none of the beds had sheets on them, and the children’s' clothes were dirty. "The kitchen floor was invisible due to the cake of animal feces. [There were] roaches crawling on the walls, the ceilings and cabinets," Conkin described.

We went by the home and talked to three of the parents facing charges. They said it's a misunderstanding and showed us how they've already cleaned up. "They caught us in a bad moment," said April Lawson, charged with felony child neglect.

Lawson went on to say a hectic few days left little time for cleaning, but that wasn't the norm for them. "Yeah, we did neglect to clean the house the weekend, and it did look worse than it really was," Lawson said.

Lilly Williams said what police thought was feces was just chocolate cake from a weekend birthday party. "There is not feces and flies. This is a livable house, and just please don't judge families until you get to know them," said Lilly Williams, charged with child neglect.

Lawson said, "We really do not live like this. It's just not us."

For now, the parents still face charges, but are hopeful their children will return soon to a cleaner home. "I don't want my kids to think that their mom's a bad mom," Williams said.

Lilly Williams, 36, and Walter Williams, 48, are charged with child neglect.

April Lawson, 22, and Phillip Lawson, 29, are charged with felony child neglect because of the young age of their children.

As of Thursday morning, their children were with friends and family.