Judge sentences Carroll County couple after children found caged in home

A judge sentenced a Carroll County couple to 30 years in prison, stemming from six counts of neglect of their children after authorities found two young children caged in room covered in feces and trash.

Paul Trapani and Melissa Trapani were sentenced to 30 years at the Division of Corrections after being convicted of six counts of neglect of a minor, prosecutors said Friday.

Both defendants had lengthy careers in the Army National Guard, with Paul Trapani retiring as a colonel, prosecutors said. They moved to Westminster in 2008 and lived with their six children ranging in age from 5 to 12, and there were also 11 dogs in the home, officials said.

Child Protective Services investigators and Carroll County Sheriff’s deputies went to the Trapani home on Nov. 7, 2014, after receiving a report that there were two children locked in a room and eating off the floor, according to prosecutors.

Inside the home, there was an overwhelming odor of animal urine and feces mixed with dirt and rotting food. The entire surface of some of the children’s bedroom were covered in trash, rotting food and dirty clothes, according to prosecutors.

Nine of the 11 dogs were inside crates littered with animal feces and urine, officials said. In a room near the kitchen, investigators found two young children, ages 5 and 7, locked inside a room with a half door below wooden bars nailed to the top of the doorway that resembled a cage, officials said.

The two children were peeking through a hole between the door and the bars, officials said. The inside of the door, all the walls, windows and floors of the room were covered in feces, officials said.

There was no furniture in the room and only shreds of blankets and a shriveled hotdog on the floor, officials said. The 7-year-old child was naked with feces matted in her hair, and the 5-year-old boy was wearing only a diaper, according to officials. The children were non-verbal and did not respond to their own names, officials said.

The female child was described to exhibit animal-like behavior, officials said. The children were all removed from the home placed in foster care and some have been adopted by other families, officials said.

At the sentencing hearing, victim impact statements indicated all the children were lacking in basic hygiene and social skills.

“They have been deprived of a substantial portion of their childhood by the actions of their parents (and the children) are trying to learn basic skills like communication,” officials said.

Testimony from the treating child psychologist, Dr. Harper Johnston, said that some of the behavior that she saw of the girl that was confined resembled “animal-like” behavior and resembled that of children that had experienced “institutionalized neglect.”

“I am extremely grateful to our prosecutors, the social workers, medical personnel, and police officers involved with rescuing these six children from such cruel and inhumane conditions,” Carroll County State’s Attorney Brian DeLeonardo said. “The conduct uncovered during the investigation shocked the conscience of everyone involved, including the judge. We are grateful that justice has been served, and the children can move forward and live the life they always deserved in a loving home.”

The investigation and prosecution of this case was the combined effort by the State’s Attorney’s Office, the Department of Social Services, the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, the Maryland State Police and Carroll Hospital Center.


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