4 in Georgia charged with cruelty to children, officers say they found family living in filth

Four people were arrested on child cruelty charges in Floyd County after police found children living in filth.

A school social worker notified police, who obtained a search warrant to check the welfare of the children due to multiple complaints they received over several months about the conditions in which the children are living.

When they arrived at the home, police saw multiple chickens running around the property, piles of household garbage, multiple dogs barking from inside the home and four smaller dogs inside an RV.

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There was a second RV in the front yard and multiple broken-down vehicles.

When officers spoke with the woman answering the door, later identified as Tiffany Hope Fortenberry, 36, and explained they had received another complaint about her property and the condition of the children at the school, they said became defensive and said she was going to sue the school and the police department for harassment.

Once officers presented a search warrant, they entered the home.

According to the police report, an officer said upon entering, the ammonia in the air “instantly gave my eyes and nose a burning sensation and made me cough.”

Officers observed a child sitting on a couch watching television and a pet pad soaked with animal urine in front of the couch, a secondary pet pad saturated with urine and feces, and multiple piles of feces and old feces that were smeared into the flooring.

Next to the couch, police said the flooring was missing, leaving a large hole in the ground.


Officers said they observed a fish tank with green water and a few large fish, and a chicken house next to the fireplace.

Officers said they observed children’s toys on the floor, including puzzle pieces that had animal feces smeared on them.

Police said there were two Guinea pigs in a cage on the kitchen countertop that had kicked feces onto the countertop and the kitchen sink.

Officers observed a clothes washer in the middle of the kitchen floor that Fortenberry said was broken.

Through the kitchen into the laundry area, police said there were multiple piles of clothing that were covered in feces and urine.

The officers said they saw cockroaches running through the ovens, counters, and shelves with food on them.

According to police, the floor of a girls’ bedroom was wet with urine and contained multiple piles of smeared and fresh feces.

Officers said in the boy’s bedroom the top mattress of the bunk bed appeared to be soiled in urine, while the bottom mattress was caved into the center almost touching the floor.

In the children’s bathroom, officers said there was no running water, the toilet was filled with human urine and feces, and there were smeared feces and a soiled feminine product on the floor.

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Inside Fortenberry’s bedroom, officers said was the only mattress in the house with sheets. Police said the Fortenberry’s bathroom had a functioning toilet and running water.

Officers said they found a plethora of clean blankets and pillows on the bed and no signs of urine on the mattress.

According to police, the oldest son was staying in a large white shed outside the main house, which contained a large clean bed with sheets, pillows, and blankets, and a dresser that contained clean clothes and shoes that did not have feces on them. A small space heater was inside the shed to provide warmth inside the shed.

Fortenberry, along with Eric Robert Hardy, 38; Katherine Louise Rymer, 59; and Joseph Benjamin South III, 42, were each arrested and charged with seven counts of cruelty to children, and contributing to the deprivation of a child resulting in serious injury.