Two charged with felony child neglect

ELKINS — Two Elkins residents are being held in the Tygarts Valley Regional Jail after police allegedly found two young children living in what officers say were deplorable conditions.

Terri Copeland, 54, and her boyfriend John Nelson, 50, have both been charged with felony child neglect with risk of serious bodily injury or death after police were dispatched to the couple’s apartment for a possible domestic situation on Thanksgiving Day, officers said.

Both are being held on cash-only bonds, Nelson a $25,000, and Copeland a $10,000.

The criminal complaint states that officers had already received a call earlier the same day in reference to Nelson leaving the two children, both three years of age, in a car unattended while he was in a store.

Once arriving at the couple’s apartment, the report states the children had no clothes on when officers encountered them. Copeland told police that she had guardianship of the juveniles.

The criminal complaint states that trash was apparent in the apartment and the odor of feces was overpowering throughout the residence. The report relates that food items were on the floor and that feces and urine were in the children’s training potty in the living room and appeared to have been sitting for a significant time.

Police observed feces smeared on the floor throughout the apartment and severe black mold on the walls throughout the residence. The floor throughout the apartment was sticky with what appeared to be urine and spilled drinks, the report states.

Full trash cans with gnats flying around them were in the apartment and there were two small children’s beds in the only room of the one-bedroom apartment, along with a small day bed, the complaint states. Copeland told police the juveniles slept on the children’s beds and that she slept on the small day bed. She said Nelson slept on the couch.

Child Protective Services was notified and arrived on scene to take custody of the children. The couple was taken to the Elkins Police Department for processing and then transported to the TVRJ, according to the complaint.


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