As winter begins to rear its ugly head and another year winds down, the Daily Democrat begins its annual look at the year's top stories, as chosen by employees of the newspaper.
This year, we've decided to stretch out the usual Top 10 to a Top 12 — or 12 in '12.
Today we begin with No. 12.
Two Decatur residents were arrested in October in connection with a case that resulted in two children being removed from the custody of their parents and a home at 104 S. 11th Street being condemned by the Adams County Health Department. Those events were voted as the Daily Democrat's No. 12 news story of 2012.
Jason C. Hausauer, 42, and Sondra D. Hausauer, 37, both of Decatur, were charged with neglect of a dependent, according to police records.
Former Decatur Police patrolman James Franze reported that on August 9 he was met by Child Protective Services case worker Megan Ross, who requested assistance at the 11th Street home in reference to a report of children living in unhealthy conditions.
Franze said he was familiar with the residence from two prior visits, in 2008 and 2010, that involved the health department declaring the home unfit for human habitation, according to court documents.
Franze also stated that as he and Ross were standing on the sidewalk, he could detect “a very strong odor of what I felt to be ammonia coming from within the house that I associate with animal feces and urine.”
When Sondra Hausauer came to the door, Ross advised her they were there regarding to a complaint of the conditions the children were living in and asked permission for herself and Franze to enter the home, according to court records.
Franze stated upon entering the home his “breathe was taken away” from the stench of ammonia. He allegedly observed swarms of flies resting and feeding on ground-in food on the floor and entry way.
Inside the home, Franze said he found Jason Hausauer was sitting on a couch. The officer said the entire area was in a state of disarray, with dirty clothing, blankets, spoiled food, moldy drinking containers, and general filth strewn throughout the room, according to the affidavit
Franze said the carpeting in the room was covered with animal feces and urine, as was a neighboring room with carpeting so worn it was only a hard crust of rubber backing with animal feces and urine ground in.
As Franze and Ross proceeded upstairs to the children’s bedrooms, Ross allegedly stepped on something under a blanket in front of the
parents’ bedroom, according to the affidavit.
Franze removed the blanket and allegedly discovered a deceased dog covered with fleas and flies that was already in the stages of decomposing, according to the probable cause affidavit.
The report also stated that Franze and Ross allegedly found the children’s bedrooms covered in dried feces and urine.
In the kitchen, Franze reported he observed several cats running along the counters and moldy dishes in the sink. Inside the refrigerator, Franze allegedly found spoiled food, along with a bowl of milk that had several dead fleas floating inside, according to the probable cause.
As Franze, Ross, and the Hausauers stepped outside to talk, Franze noted Jason’s body was allegedly covered with open sores that appeared to be flea bites, according to the probable cause.
At that time, Franze reported he felt biting on his legs and allegedly found his pants, socks and shoes covered with fleas, and several were under his pants leg biting him. Franze also observed several fleas on the clothing of Ross, according to the affidavit.
Franze stated he then contacted Terry Smith of the Adams County Health Department and Decatur Building Director Roger Gage who, upon arrival at the home, declared it was unfit for human habitation. It was declared condemned by Smith, according to court records.
Ross removed the children for placement while the investigation continues, according to the probable cause affidavit.
Seven cats, five kittens, two dogs and the dead dog were removed by officials.
Health department director Terry Smith said the house remains condemned and will remain so for the forseeable future.
The Hausauers' next scheduled court appearance is set for January.