3 young children found living with buckets of human waste and mice

Filthy apartment illustration 
By: Wayne Morin 

A mother was arrested, charged and convicted of endangering the welfare of a child after living with three small children in a house filled with human waste and mice, prosecutors in New York said.

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced that Katherine Vartholomeou, 48, of Flushing has been convicted of endangering the lives of her son and two granddaughters, ages 2, 3, and 8, by failing to provide them with a habitable environment.

“As a mother and caregiver to the children, the defendant endangered their welfare by raising them in deplorable and unsafe living conditions that included no running water or electricity. The house was missing exterior walls and part of the roof. It was infested with vermin, refuse and human waste,” District Attorney Brown said.

Vartholomeou of 147-09 41st., was convicted of three counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Vartholomeou faces up to one year in jail.

The children's living conditions came to light while police were investigating a pattern of burglaries in which Vartholomeou’s son, Dimitrios Vlahakis, 24, became a prime suspect.

In executing a court-authorized search warrant for stolen property at Vartholomeou’s 41 Avenue residence, which had previously been the scene of a fire, officers found three younger children.

According to court records, upon entering the premises, officers observed objects piled several feet high and covered in refuse, and extension cords running to lights dangerously close to objects that could have caught fire.

Further, the house was missing some exterior walls and part of the roof, had no electrical service other than extension cords running into the house from a neighboring house, and no running water.

Police observed buckets of human waste scattered throughout the house, as well as rodents and insects. Vlahakis pleaded guilty to fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, and was sentenced to 90 days in jail.

The three children are presently in the custody of family members.