Wellton couple arrested for alleged child abuse, drug offenses
A Wellton couple were arrested Friday for allegedly neglecting their children, keeping them in an unclean house without power for several days, no running water and no food.
Matthew Ray Willis and Jaime Elizabeth Bleach are facing domestic violence charges of child abuse and child neglect.
They were arrested after the Wellton Police Department responded to a report of domestic violence at their home. However, police said the investigation revealed the couple's two young children were present and witnessed the incidents. Police ended up arresting both individuals for numerous offenses.
The investigation also reportedly revealed items of drug paraphernalia throughout the home where the children resided. Charges will also be sought for those offenses as well, police said.
The abuse and neglect criminal allegations stem from the condition of the residence, being without power for several days, no running water, the general lack of basic hygiene and that no discernible foods were available, Sgt. David Rodriguez reported.
The police department has previously received complaints allegedly the children were not being cared for. Representatives from the Arizona Department of Economic Security Child Protective Services Division and Arizona's Children Association were already involved in a separate review of the home situation involving the children when police arrived, Rodriguez noted.
A victim's advocate from Amberly's Place also responded to the scene to provide assistance.
“We are saddened that a situation like this required such a drastic response from the police department, but we strongly feel that parents have a mandate to protect children from these kind of emotional and psychological abuses, and if they will not, we most certainly will,” Lt. Cannon Ball said in a statement.
Ball also stated that the Wellton Police Department takes allegations of domestic violence and crimes committed against children as the top priority and that renewed efforts to educate and inform the public were in preparation when this case came to light.
“There is no better time than now to expose this horrendous and harmful pattern of behavior for what it is, a criminal act to be investigated and dealt with to prevent the generational transfer of domestic violence and illicit drug use,” Ball said.
Rodriguez added that anyone who suspects incidents of domestic violence, sexual assault or any crimes against children are urged to contact their local law enforcement agency and report the allegations immediately.
“Domestic violence and crimes against children cannot, and should not, be tolerated in any community,” Rodriguez said.
Mara Knaub can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (928) 539-6856. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSMaraKnaub or on Twitter at @YSMaraKnaub.