FORT WAYNE – They weren’t hunted down by child welfare officials or police.
There weren’t any concerned citizens calling in tips about the plight of the children or the filthy living conditions they were forced to sleep in.
Instead, a local couple accused of neglecting their seven children inadvertently brought the scrutiny placed on them themselves.
All with a phone call.
Marian R. Clark, 41, and Robert Boyko, 42, both of Monroeville, were arrested Wednesday at the Hallmark Inn after Fort Wayne Police found their children living in a urine-soaked room and sharing food with animals on the floor.
Police were called to the motel at 3730 E. Washington Blvd. by Neighborhood Code officers.
Those officers, who first discovered the deplorable and putrid conditions, were checking Clark’s and Boyko’s room at the behest of the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health.
Who called the Department of Health?
Either Boyko or Clark called the health department to complain about lack of heat in the room.
We were contacted by the Allen County Board of Health. They had received a complaint from the occupants of the room, said Cindy Joyner, head of Neighborhood Code.
The condition of Clark’s and Boyko’s room has been splashed all over the media in the past few days.
Some of their children – from a week old to 14 years old – were zip-tied to chairs and car seats.
Their room was littered with old bologna and chicken wings on the floor, which was also used as a bathroom by two cats and a dog.
None of the children was dressed for the recent cold and snowy weather conditions, some with no shoes and red feet and hands from being stuck in an unheated van in 8-degree temperatures.
The clothes the children did have were described as filthy and soiled in police reports.
An infant girl Clark gave birth to at the end of December was dressed in a one-piece outfit and taken to a hospital. The girl was suffering from hypothermia and jaundice and placed in intensive care.
Joyner said that a lack of heat, which brought code enforcement officers from her division to the motel, falls under Neighborhood Code’s purview.
Sometimes, code officers encounter conditions that they found with Clark’s and Boyko’s room, prompting intervention that falls out of code officers’ duties.
If there’s a gray area, especially if they’re dealing with kids, they’re to call a supervisor and ask what needs to happen, Joyner said. In this case, it was to call police.
We respond all over town to different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds, said John Caywood, of Neighborhood Code Enforcement, who went to the Hallmark Inn on Wednesday.
We work closely with the police department and adult protective services, he continued. We’re trained to respond accordingly.
Clark and Boyko are both facing seven counts of neglect of a dependent and are being held in Allen County Jail on $47,000 bail.
If they post bond, they have been served with seven no-contact orders to keep them away from their children.