Shaun Horlander, 23, and his 23-year-old wife, Ashley, were allegedly imprisoning their three kids in a bedroom every night, according to information phoned in anonymously to Indiana Child Protective Services and handed by caseworkers to the local sheriff’s department. But when the Clark County deputies acted on the tip and showed up late Tuesday night to check out the situation, they found a situation even more sickening than they could have imagined.
The Horlanders told the officers that they had to lock the three kids, ages 6, 3, and 4, away in the bedroom. After all, the kids were sneaking into the refrigerator at night and stealing food — an explanation that would have been perverse enough on its own, except that the investigators found almost no food in the refrigerator. Only beer and wine.
Plus, the kids were messing the place up, Shaun and Ashley told the officers. But there was no way that three small children could have made the nightmarish mess inside the home on Lincoln Boulevard in Sellersburg, Indiana.
Not only were the kids locked in a room with no air conditioning — or even electricity — in the middle of a steaming, hot summer where outdoor temperatures have hit the high 80s all week, but their room was strewn with dirty diapers and other garbage, with nothing to sleep on but a hardwood floor and a pillow.
Even the police said they immediately began dripping sweat as soon as they entered the hellish cell-like room. But as the children ran to them out of the darkness, crying and screaming, the officers didn’t worry about their own comfort.
The rest of the house was even worse. According to the police report, feces was smeared on walls and cockroaches roamed freely through piles of loose garbage and half-eaten, rotting food. Dead bugs coated unchanged insect strips, and perhaps most frightening of all, police found loaded guns lying out in the open, according to Detective Scottie Maples.
An “unbearable odor” hung in the stale air throughout the entire home, the police report described.
The Horlander parents freely admitted imprisoning their kids in the filth-filled bedroom.
“You know, it was basically a small room,” said Maples. “The children were locked there for whatever hours the parents deemed necessary, and we’re not talking about 15 to 20 minutes, here, we’re talking eight hours or so, which isn’t reasonable.”
The above photo was taken by investigators inside the home.
But neighbors who knew Shaun and Ashley Horlander — who are now charged with three counts of neglect and two counts of criminal confinement — say they never suspected that the young couple would be added to that list.
“They seem like really nice people,” said one neighbor, named Sally. “They helped my mother.”
[Images: Clark County Sherif’s Office]