A Palm Springs, Florida, couple — 31-year-old Gwynevere Merkau and Daniel Brajon, 26 — found themselves behind bars Friday, September 4, charged with being parents so mind-bogglingly neglectful that one of their two children officially did not even exist.
The little girl's mom, Merkau, gave birth to the baby in a bathtub in four inches of water — according to what her husband, Brajon, told police — then cut the newborn's umbilical cord with plain old scissors. The child is now nearly 15 months old and has never seen a doctor, and doesn't even have a birth certificate.
According to a report in Florida's Sun-Sentinel newspaper, police in the south Florida town of about 20,000 checked on the couple's apartment on the 2000 block of Springdale Boulevard in Palm Springs, after receiving a report that the three-year-old son of Gwynevere Merkau and Daniel Brajon was being subjected to neglect and possible abuse.
When investigators arrived, they were stunned to find that the couple had a second child — one for whom no records existed. Under Florida law, all newborn children must be recorded and receive birth certificates.
But the one-year-old, found neglected and in dirty diapers, was not the only shock police received in their inspection of the couple's apartment, WPTV News reported.
The boy was also clad in soiled diapers with dirty hair, finger, and toe nails. He appeared to lack the ability to communicate in recognizable language, using only an array of grunting sounds to express his needs, police said.
The entire apartment, according to a police report, was drowning in filth, with dirt and bird droppings coating the floor, black soot stains on the walls from an apparent fire, and overflowing ash trays littering the living space.
"If you would walk into the apartment, see the conditions, you would basically be taken back by what these kids were living in," said Palm Springs Police Spokesperson Edgar Morley.
Police also found drug paraphernalia in the home, and Brajon explained to police that both he and his wife were drug users. His wife was addicted to heroin, he told investigators, and he also used drugs heavily, including crack cocaine and marijuana.
Merkau herself acknowledged having used heroin for many years.
Gregory Gonzalez, whose name was on the apartment lease according to a report on WPBF-TV, told police that he offered Gwynevere Merkau and Daniel Brajon the chance to live in the place after seeing their previous domicile, a camper with no air conditioning.
[Images: Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office]