POLICE raided a West Side Chicago building on Tuesday to catch a suspected drug dealer but instead found 19 children living in a cold, filthy, dilapidated apartment, competing with a dog for meat scraps.
Neighbors heard the children screaming, but one said it sounded ``like the kids were being bad.'' Investigators for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services visited the apartment three times since September, but were turned away.
Four mothers, a father, and an uncle were charged with contributing to child neglect. Another mother was in custody; the sixth was having her third child. One boy found unconscious was later reported in fair condition.
The case was the latest in a series of child-neglect and abandonment cases in Chicago.
This week, a mother was charged with murder in the starvation death of a 3-month-old. Last month, three children were found in their apartment after being left alone for three days.
The earlier cases brought much criticism of the welfare agency. Referring to the latest case, Mayor Richard Daley said: ``You wonder first ... about their parents. But how about ... neighbors, ... family members? ... Why didn't they come forward...?''