CROSSVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT)-- Two parents, accused of allowing their three children to live in horrible conditions, now face child abuse charges.
Leslie and Ashley Martin were arrested after an anonymous tip led Cumberland County Deputies to find the children living in unsanitary conditions.
Deputies found rotten food covered in bugs on the countertops and sinks and toilets overflowing with human waste. They also found drug paraphernalia.
"The conditions were deplorable," Sheriff Butch Burgess said. " It's not the worst we've seen."
Earlier this year, another pair of children were discovered living in a filthy home. According to the sheriff, it's become an epidemic in Cumberland County and often stems from the parents' drug habits.
"The sad part is when the parents get out of jail they go back to their own life," Sheriff Burgess said. "But the kids move to a different county, live with strangers and go to a different school. They eventually return home and it messes up their schedule. They feel like we're punishing them."
Sheriff Burgess said he hopes to save other kids from similar situations. That's why he's teamed up with state officials to take part in the D.E.A.R program-- for drug endangered and at risk children.
He said it's a problem they're going to tackle as a community.
During the investigation, deputies also learned the children's father was wanted on several unrelated charges. He faces multiple charges including probation violation and child abuse.
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