Tacoma woman charged with locking 3 young children in filthy room

Staff writerJune 13, 2014 

A Tacoma woman has been charged with keeping her three young children locked in a filthy room.

Tasha Herndon, 26, pleaded not guilty Thursday to three counts of second-degree criminal mistreatment and three counts of unlawful imprisonment. She was ordered jailed in lieu of $300,000 bail.

Her three sons, ages 2, 3 and 6, were placed into protective custody June 2 after officers were called to her home by a woman requesting a welfare check.

The woman told police she went inside Herndon’s home in the 700 block of Yakima Avenue, which reeked of urine. While there, the woman said she heard children crying and rattling a door and witnessed Herndon toss crackers through a slit in the door and order the kids to shut up.

Police went to the house and found the boys locked inside a bedroom. A deadbolt had been moved high on the door so the children couldn’t reach it, a hole had been cut in the bottom of the door to pass food through, feces was smeared on the wall and the carpet was so soaked with urine that it squished, according to charging papers.

When officers opened the door, two of the boys- one of whom was naked, the other was wearing urine-soaked underwear – pushed past them. The 6-year-old lay unresponsive in bed. The little boys were taken to a local hospital to be checked out.

Herndon told police she moved there in October and hadn’t had electricity for three months, which is why she couldn’t keep food in the house. She said the boys broke their beds and she bought new ones but hadn’t put them together because she expected to be evicted soon, records show.

Herndon said the children were naked because they refused to keep on clothes, she only locked them in the room when she needed to nap or shower and claimed she had no control over her sons, records indicate.

“My living condition is horrible right now,” she admitted.

The boys were interviewed days later. The 3-year-old couldn’t speak much and allegedly used hand gestures to indicate he often ate hamburgers and pizza off the floor. The 6-year-old told police their door is always locked and his mom makes him pick up the other boys’ feces and throw it out the window.

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