Sheena Zanghi, 24, was raising her four kids in a trailer that no child — or for that matter, adult — should be forced to endure, in a trailer with no water, bathroom, or electricity, except for the power pumped in through a cable plugged into the trailer next door. And that electricity was used not to heat the place for the four children, who were all under the age of four, but to power a big-screen TV.
And that’s not even the worst of the hellish conditions in which the Sheena lived with her children, according to the Henry County, Indiana, sheriff’s deputies who arrested her last year. Zanghi was scheduled to go to trial on the multiple child neglect charges this week, but instead, she took a last minute plea bargain, confessing to four counts of neglecting a dependent. Terms of the deal were not made public, but the charges could send her to prison for three years.
Her husband, Vincent Zanghi, also took a plea deal last month.
“It wasn’t fit for anyone to live there. There was no water, no plumbing, no heat, windows were broken out. It was bug-infested,” said Henry County Sheriff Butch Baker.
In a bizarre twist to the horrifying story, Zanghi was reported to authorities by her own grandfather — who owns that next-door trailer supplying power to the TV. The grandpa, 81-year-old Earl Lee Larue, was himself convicted of child molesting in 2007.
Larue told police that his granddaughter’s husband assaulted him, and that he suspected the man of abusing the children, as well.
Whether any of the four kids in the trailer from hell were sexually molested is unclear, but police said that at least one suffered severe physical abuse. That was a 14-month old baby girl, who was found with what police called an “extensive” fracture of her skull. But the child had never seen a doctor about the injury.
In fact, Sheena Zanghi — who was living alone when police arrested her last October; her husband already moved out and living with friends — admitted that none of the children had seen a doctor or dentist in a very long time.
One of the older kids had “excessive” plaque on his teeth, and all had numerous cuts and bruises. Zanghi told police that the injuries were inflicted by the pit bull puppies she owned.
The two youngest children, twins born prematurely, slept together in a crib soaked with urine. The two older kids slept in a mold-encrusted mattress. Rusty nails protruded from walls, windows were broken out, and three of the children were found by doctors to be “severely malnourished,” to the point where there brains could be affected, causing developmental disorders.
Sheena Zanghi on her Facebook page describes her occupation as “stay at home mommy 24 hours 7 days a week.”
In a similar case, a mom of 12 in Oklahoma was charged in June with child neglect for allegedly keeping her youngest children in a home filled with garbage, feces, and other squalor.
Sentencing for both Sheena and Vincent Zanghi is set for August 13. According to media reports, the children have been placed in foster care.
[Images: Henry County Sheriff’s Department]