May 24, 2023

Couple facing endangerment charges after CT home condemned

A couple faces felony charges after a Middletown home with at least one child residing there was condemned when police discovered "potentially dangerous and life-threatening safety concerns," according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

Middletown Police Department officers responded to the single-family home on E. Main Street on Nov. 21, 2022, on the report of a domestic disturbance and immediately noticed that a five-foot staircase leading to a small wooden deck to get into the home "bowed under our body weight, almost collapsing," an officer wrote in the affidavit for William Clayton, 47, and Katie O’Brien-Clayton, 46.

Clayton and O’Brien-Clayton were both arrested last week and each faces three felony counts of risk of injury to a minor. They are free from custody and were expected to be arraigned on Wednesday in Middletown Superior Court.

The affidavit in the case was redacted to exclude information on how many children were residing in the home.

Police who responded to the Middletown home noted that the front door did not have a lock and "had to be propped with a chicken feed bag to keep it closed," the affidavit said. Officers also smelled an overwhelming odor of urine and feces from the dozen cats and kittens "loose inside the house," according to the affidavit.

The lone bathroom in the home, police wrote, had a collapsed floor, causing the shower and toilet to be "partially falling in." Clayton, officers noted in the affidavit, said he had propped the floor up with a lally column to keep it from caving into the basement.

"The shower was filthy, stained and sunken into the floor causing it to sit at such an angle, it would be dangerous to stand in while wet or soapy," Middletown police wrote in the affidavit. "The toilet was leaning at an angle toward the shower and would be difficult to use."

Inside the bathroom, officers reportedly found that the drywall was missing, which left pipes and wires exposed, and a hard-wired light designed to be mounted on a wall dangling from a towel hook on the bathroom door, according to the affidavit.

"The light's wires were not properly wired, with exposed electrical wire and an open electrical box that posed an immediate electrical shock hazard to anyone who may have made contact with it walking into the bathroom," Middletown police wrote.

In the living room of the home, police said they reportedly found a large wood-burning stove in the middle of the room that served as the primary source of heat, as Clayton told police the oil furnace had not been used in at least 15 years.

Though the stove was on non-combustible stone, it was surrounded by hardwood floors that could catch on fire from a hot ember, the affidavit said. The living room was "heavily cluttered and unusable with nowhere to sit and assorted items and clothing covering just about every surface," police wrote in the affidavit. City building officials told police the stove had been installed "illegally without any permits," the affidavit said.

"The wood stove created an immediate fire hazard…," according to the affidavit.

Middletown police said the kitchen had things "strewn all over the counters," and that cooking would not be "possible without drastically cleaning…" The sink was overflowing with dishes and the kitchen table was "almost unrecognizable since it was covered with assorted household items," the affidavit said.

According to the affidavit, police also found rotten food and trash in some of the upstairs bedrooms. All of the bedrooms had a "strong and distinct odor of urine and feces," the affidavit said.

Upon opening the basement door, the affidavit said, police smelled "an overwhelming odor of urine, feces, decaying animals and home heating fuel…."

A heavily redacted area of the affidavit makes mention of officials discussing a "safety plan" and a "legal intervention," though it was not clear whether this was directly related to any children living in the home.

Officials condemned the home following an inspection, the affidavit said.

This is not the first time Clayton has been charged with risk of injury to a minor. He was arrested in 2014 after allegedly leaving his two children, ages 4 and 2, in a pickup truck for about a half-hour, archives indicated.

Clayton was also arrested in 2018 when Middletown police said he intentionally backed a truck with a 5-year-old inside into an occupied police car to avoid a ticket.

The outcome of those cases was not clear Thursday.

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