SULPHUR SPRINGS (KFSM) — A Sulphur Springs man faces several child endangerment charges after police say his children were malnourished, living in extremely dirty conditions and suffering from physical abuse.
John Charles Atwood, 31, was arrested Wednesday (March 13) in connection with five counts of violating the child maltreatment act, two counts of endangering the welfare of a minor, domestic battery, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.
A woman called Sulphur Springs police Tuesday (March 12) after she found two of Atwood’s kids running down Hilbert Street, according to a probable case affidavit.
One of the children was wearing only a diaper while the other had a diaper and a shirt. Police said the children were covered in dirt and had abrasions on their bodies.
One child had blood in their diaper and a rash so severe they could barely sit down, according to the affidavit.
Police went to Atwood’s home, where they said he appeared to have just woken up and didn’t realize two of his children were missing. Three of Atwood’s other children in the home were sleeping.
Police said Atwood’s home was in disarray, with trash bins overflowing with rotten food and old diapers.
Police found little food in the house outside of a dried out ham in the refrigerator and a package of hot dogs, according to the affidavit.
Most of the canned goods and cereal were covered with roaches, which also swarmed the kitchen.
Atwood said he planned to “get food tomorrow,” noting that it was “food stamp day,” according to the affidavit.
Atwood also said he had no running water inside the home but pointed officers toward two jugs of water he had access to.
The two children found in the street were taken to Ozarks Community Hospital to be treated for malnourishment. A doctor at the hospital said one child appeared to be suffering from burns. Atwood said the burn was actually a rash he had been treating.
Police reported their case to the Department of Human Services (DHS), noting that one of Atwood’s children had a hand-shaped bruise on his face, according to the affidavit.
Atwood was being held Friday (March 15) at the Benton County Jail on a $23,000 bond. He has a hearing set for April 22 in Benton County Circuit Court.