COTTONWOOD – In a case that Cottonwood police officials described as “one of worst child neglect cases officers have seen,” a 32-year-old Cottonwood woman has been arrested on felony charges of endangerment, child abuse (criminal negligence), neglect or abuse of a minor and possession of drug paraphernalia.
According to a news release from Monica Kuhlt, professional standards sergeant for the Cottonwood Police Department, early Saturday morning, members of the Verde Valley Regional SWAT Team executed a search warrant in the 200 block of North 12th Street.
Cottonwood transient, Sarah Jean Easterday, 32, also known as Shortridge, was arrested.
Officers described the abandoned residence as a “flop-house” for drug users. The residence did not have running water or working electricity, except for one outlet to which multiple extension cords were attached. The home was noxiously pungent with trash, debris, broken glass, rotting food and feces found throughout. The suspect’s three children, all under the age of 5, were found living among these deplorable conditions, said Kuhlt.
The children were transported to Verde Valley Medical Center for treatment, evaluation and hygiene. The children were found to be suffering from rashes, bumps, lice, burns, open sores, scabies and were observed to be covered in feces.
Department of Child Safety was called to the scene and the children were removed from Easterday-Shortridge’s custody.
Cottonwood officers were made aware of this residence after a person sought medical treatment at the emergency room the evening before due to head injuries from being “pistol-whipped” by an adult male staying at that residence. That aspect of the investigation was completed and sent to the Yavapai County Attorney’s Office for review, said Kuhlt.