Children found living in deplorable conditions, two adults charged with child neglect

Home did not have electricity
Posted at 12:03 PM, Aug 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-17 03:58:41-04

Officers with the Tampa Police Department arrested and charged two adults after finding five children living in deplorable conditions.

According to police, the children were living with Jose Colon, 65 and Barbara Boone, 45, in a home that was infested with roaches, rats, and did not have electricity.  The children range in age from 8 to 17. The home is on Powhatan Avenue East in East Tampa.

Colon and Boone are both charged with five counts of child neglect and five counts of contributing to the delinquency of a child.

Investigators went to the home after the Department of Children and Family Services received an anonymous complaint about children living in a home without water and electricity.

The person who sent in the complaint also said the children at the home were not being sent to school. 

"I felt like there was a lot of bad things going on over here." Toni Smith, who lives across the street, said.

When officers entered the home, they found fecal matter on the floor, rodent droppings, roaches, large spiders, spider webs, mold on the ceilings, a hole in the roof of the children's room, broken windows, floors caving in and mold on the floors. 

The only bathroom in the home did not have a working toilet.  A bucket was being used according to an affidavit. 

There were two refrigerators and two coolers that contained spoiled food, roaches and flies. 

"I didn't see no kids going to school. I didn't see no groceries coming in the house. I didn't see no lights on." Smith said.

Officers evaluated the inhabitable property, owned by Colon and Boone, and advised that the home should be condemned. 

ABC Action News spoke with the couple's oldest adult son, Jose Colon Jr. He claims none of the report or allegations are true. He says his parents moved out of the home in February when the electricity was turned off. They were living with friends, in motels and were in the process of moving to Pennsylvania when the kids were taken. He claims his mother, father and 5 siblings were already out of state when Child Protective investigators took the children. Colon says he had been living in a car in the front yard of the home and even took responsibility for the bucket of feces found inside.

"The bucket? I was using the bucket. Big deal. I'm a grown man." He said. "A neighbor filed a complaint... We've had problems with them even when I was a kid."

According to the Hillsborough County School locator division, the children in the home had not been attending school for two or three years. A spokesperson for the school district told ABC Action News, the children were withdrawn by their guardians. Guardians have the right to withdraw their children and are not obligated to tell the district where the children will be going, Tanya Arja, spokesperson for the school district explained.

The report states that one of the children did not even know how to identify written numbers. Colon Jr. also says that's not true.

"I taught her plenty of things myself." He said. "She knows her ABCs, her numbers, how to spell her name. I mean, she's 8. She's going to know that stuff."

The couple has also been charged with animal cruelty. A dog was found without proper shelter, food or water in the front yard of the home, according to arrest reports.

Colon Jr, also claims the dog is his and says he was properly caring for the dog.