Couple arrested after officers find 2 children living ‘in deplorable condition’


ELKINS, W.Va. — A couple has been charged after officers found two juveniles living “in deplorable condition” while dispatched to an apartment in Elkins.

On Nov. 25, officers with the Elkins Police Department were dispatched to a residence on Lincoln Avenue in reference to a “possible domestic situation,” according to a criminal complaint.

Terri Copeland

When officers arrived, they made contact with Terri Copeland, 54, and her boyfriend, John Nelson, 50, both of Elkins; Nelson had spoken to officers earlier that day “in reference to him leaving juveniles in a car unattended” while he was at a store, officers said.

While inside, officers located two children who “had no clothes on” inside an apartment “in deplorable condition with trash everywhere,” as well as “urine and feces throughout the apartment,” according to the complaint.

John Nelson

There were “food items everywhere on the floor,” as well as “urine and feces in the children’s training potties in the living room… which appeared to be sitting for a significant amount of time,” officers said.

Also in the home, there was “feces smeared on the floor,” as well as “severe black mold on the walls” with a floor that “was sticky with what appeared to be urine and spilled drinks,” according to the complaint.

Trash cans in the apartment “had a severe amount of gnats flying around them.” The only bedroom in the apartment had two children’s beds and a daybed in it; Copeland advised she slept on the daybed, officers said.

Child Protective Service workers arrived later on scene and took custody of the children, according to the complaint.

Copeland and Nelson have been charged with child neglect. They are being held in Tygart Valley Regional Jail.

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