A New Boston, Texas, couple accused of keeping their children in a house infested with cockroaches and mold are scheduled for court appearances May 1.
Kirt Gortney, 42, and Chastity Gortney, 35, were arrested last month on nine counts of child endangerment for alleged neglect, according to a probable cause affidavit. The house where the couple lived with 10 children was overrun with roaches, reeked of mold and waste and was absent anything to eat when visited Feb. 13 by Child Protective Services and members of the New Boston Police Department.
Kirt Gortney allegedly tried to dissuade officials from performing a home inspection by telling NBPD Lt. Johnny Millwood that every member of the household was suffering from stomach flu. CPS investigators had been to the home at 134 Myrtle Street before and referred the Gortneys for services of which they never took advantage.
“I entered the kitchen area behind Kirt and was overcome by a very strong odor of urine and feces and a very strong odor of black mold and cockroach feces,” the affidavit states. “There was a very large infestation of cockroaches throughout the house.”
Millwood’s report notes that he had trouble breathing the air in the Gortney’s home where he observed very young children eating the only food in the home, raisins infested with roaches. A 15-month-old boy, dirty and wearing only a diaper, was sitting in what looked like animal waste on the living room floor with cockroaches crawling all over his body.
“I also observed another young female on that same floor and she had a small box of raisins and was eating them and I observed roaches on the raisins as she ate them,” the affidavit states. “I then walked to the bedroom on the northeast corner of the house and the cockroach infestation was so bad that the cockroaches would fall on me.”
A full-size bed, one of three beds in the home where the Gortneys claimed the children slept, was covered in living and dead roaches. Roaches crawled in and out of air conditioning/heating vents and electrical sockets.
Cockroaches had taken over the bathroom as well where pans and dishes were piled on top of a toilet that did not function.
“I asked Kirt Gortney to meet me back outside because it was very difficult to breathe inside of the residence,” the affidavit states.
Kirt Gortney allegedly told Millwood there was no food in the house and said the family receives approximately $900 monthly in food stamps in addition to WIC, Women Infants and Children subsidies, for the youngest children. Kirt Gortney told Millwood the family could stay at his mother-in-law’s apartment after being advised that the children could not remain in the deplorable conditions.
The couple was arrested on nine counts of child endangerment just over a week after the home inspection. Charges were not filed against the Gortneys for the oldest child in the home, a 15-year-old girl. The endangerment charges concern a 1-month-old baby boy, a 15-month-old boy, a 3-year-old girl, a 5-year-old girl, a 6-year-old girl, a 7-year-old girl, an 8-year-old boy, a 10-year-old girl, and an 11-year-old girl.
The Gortneys are being held in the Bowie County jail. Bond on each of the nine charges is set at $100,000 for a total of $900,000. At a court hearing April 3 before 5th District Judge Bill Miller, Kirt Gortney pleaded guilty to all nine counts. He is scheduled to return to court for sentencing May 1. Miller appointed Texarkana attorney Paige Blackmon to represent Chastity Gortney and set her case for a hearing May 1 also.
Child endangerment is a state jail felony which is punishable by six months to two years in a state jail or a term of probation up to five years.