The seven children were found living in the squalor of a urine-soaked motel room, all of them clad in filthy and soiled clothing while sharing food off the floor with animals.
Now their parents are facing seven felony counts of neglect of a dependent. They’ve also been ordered – should they be released – to stay away from their children.
This isn’t the first time Marian R. Clark and Robert L. Boyko have been accused of not properly caring for their children. How often the 41-year-old Clark and the 42-year-old Boyko have dealt with Indiana Department of Child Services officials is not clear.
How they ended up at a dingy and cramped motel room despite owning a home in Monroeville is not clear either.
What is clear, though, is that they’ve had contact with the Department of Child Services as far back as 2008. They’ve had their children taken away from them for a time.
What’s also clear is that the discovery what police officers described as deplorable and putrid living conditions might cost them custody of their children entirely.
And it might also cost the couple prison time.
Who alerted the city’s Neighborhood Code Enforcement about the room at the Hallmark Inn has not been released.
But two officers from the government agency went to the motel at 3730 E. Washington Blvd. at 10 a.m. Wednesday to check Boyko’s and Clark’s room.
Newly released Allen Superior Court documents paint a grim picture of the living conditions for the couple’s children.
Old bologna and chicken wings littered the floor, from which two cats and a dog kept by the couple ate.
Those same animals used the floor as a bathroom.
Some of the children – the ages spanned a week or two old to 14 years old – were wearing dirty diapers and clothes that had not been washed in a long time.
None of them had winter clothing.
A 14-year-old boy described as possibly autistic and unable to speak was zip-tied to a chair. That chair – as well as several car seats used for the other children – were devoid of padding and filthy, court documents said.
At least one other child was confined to a car seat with zip ties.
As Neighborhood Code officers spoke to Boyko and Clark, the couple began loading their van with their belongings and their children. It became clear to police the couple were about to flee, so officers blocked the van’s path with their own vehicles to stall until police could arrive.
By the time police officers were on the scene, the children were shivering in the unheated van. Several had no shoes, their hands and feet red from the cold, officers would later write in their police reports.
Like the motel room, the van smelled of filth.
Police took Boyko and Clark into custody while piling blankets on the kids in an empty motel room.
Animal Care & Control came to take the two cats and dog while the children scarfed down fast food as if it was their first meal in a long while, police said.
A frail and extremely small infant, a baby Clark had given birth to only a week prior, was pulled from the van dressed in only a one-piece outfit.
Later Wednesday, that child would be admitted to a pediatric intensive care unit suffering from jaundice and hypothermia.
‘No place else’
Boyko’s and Clark’s home address listed in court documents is in the 18000 block of East Lincoln Highway in Monroeville.
It’s a home that was badly damaged in a fire in 2011 while the couple lived there, but according to building permit records it appears to have undergone construction.
In an interview with a detective Wednesday, though, Clark said the couple and their children had been staying at the Hallmark Inn, a home to eight registered sex offenders, since Dec. 30.
In Clark’s purse, she had $4,000 in cash she said she received from Social Security. She complained that the motel had no hot water and that a door handle had broken off the exit, forcing the family to pry the door open if they wanted to leave.
Asked why she stayed there, she answered, there was no place else to stay.
When asked about using zip-ties to keep some of her children confined to chairs, especially the 14-year-old boy, Clark said she needed to or else they would escape.
She also said someone with the Department of Child Services said it was OK to do so, according to court documents. Whether this really came from the Department of Child Services and when is not made clear in the court documents.
The agency was involved with the family in 2008, though, after Clark gave birth to her fourth child at a local hospital. And right after a faulty drug test showed Clark was positive for the drug phencyclidine.
On the street, that’s known as PCP.
What’s known about Child Services’ interaction with Boyko and Clark comes from federal court documents filed more than three years ago.
Boyko and Clark sued Parkview Hospital as well as Child Protective Services over the drug test, claiming their civil rights had been violated.
Once Clark tested positive for the PCP, the hospital lawyers argued in documents, officials had no choice but to call in Child Services to investigate.
A registered nurse working at the time Clark gave birth to her fourth child believed the drug test was warranted because Marian had not received any prenatal care and because of her behavior before the delivery of her child, according to the federal court documents.
Clark’s and Boyko’s children were taken away from them for about three weeks and placed in the care of Boyko’s relatives.
The children were returned when it was discovered that Clark’s drug test was a false-positive, court records said.
In the aftermath, the Department of Child Services issued a letter that read in part:
The parents have complied with state requirements concerning the education of their children, their home is clean and appropriate, the parents have accessed the appropriate therapy and services for the special needs of their children and there is no evidence of drug use.
Despite proof of the false-positive drug test, a judge in 2012 ruled in favor of Parkview and Child Services, saying the two entities could not be sued in federal court over the issue.
Clark and Boyko, who claimed in court documents that there was some kind of conspiracy against them, were awarded no money.
A Child Services caseworker showed up Wednesday to help in the investigation into Boyko and Clark.
It’s the first mention of Child Services involvement in so-far released police reports or court documents since 2008.
Two of the couple’s children had died previously – a 7-day-old son in 2002 and a 6-year-old girl in 2008, according to obituary notices and cemetery records.
Today, the couple are behind bars, being held in lieu of $47,000 bail.
Allen County prosecutors have another business day to hand down formal charges before the couple would have to be set free.
If that happens, prosecutors can still charge them later.
And even if the couple do get the chance to walk outside, they won’t be able to see their children. Both have been served with seven no-contact orders, keeping them away from their kids.