According to authorities, on Thursday, April 22, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) received calls from neighbors reporting that they heard children screaming from inside a residence located on 1745 County Road 75 in Bunnell.
FCSO deputies arrived at the residence and could immediately hear a small child yelling, “Mommy! Mommy!,” as well as a loud banging noises coming from inside the home that were later determined to be from a child banging his juice cup against the wall asking for something to drink. As deputies approached the residence, they observed large piles of trash near the front door as well as a foul smell emitting from inside the residence.
Contact was then made with the mother of the children, Christina Coe, 26, as well as the father, Gilbert Bridewell, 27. Upon entering the house, deputies observed more trash scattered along the floor of all the bedrooms and all the rooms were in total disarray. Numerous cockroaches were observed walking along the floor, walls, inside the refrigerator, crawling in the beds, and also walking near a child’s pacifier. Deputies also noticed feces on the walls and in the children’s beds.
When questioned about the condition of the home, Coe stated that she was ‘trying her best.’ When asked when the last time the children had received a bath, Coe stated the children were bathed at a neighbor’s home earlier that day. However, all of the children were wearing dirty clothing, had dirt covering their legs and feet, and their diapers had not been changed.
When asked if the children ever received baths inside of the home, Coe stated that she had a plastic bath tub for the children that was used regularly inside the master bedroom. Deputies located the tub still in its original packaging, covered in dust, and it did not appear to have been used.
Based on the circumstances, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office contacted the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and a case worker arrived to assess the situation. Under the recommendation of DCF, all three children were removed from the home and placed into the custody of a family member.
“I am so glad that we were able to get these kids out of this house before someone was injured or became seriously ill as a result of the conditions inside the home,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. “Between the trash, bugs, and the human excrement found inside the home, this situation could have had a tragic ending. Hopefully, DCF and other agencies will help these parents and children get the help they need. It is unfortunate these conditions and the parent’s lack of actions deteriorated to a criminal case.”
Christina Coe and Gilbert Bridewell were arrested and transported to the Sheriff Perry Hall Inmate Detention Facility. They are both charged with three counts of Felony Child Neglect without Great Bodily Harm. The children are ages 2, 1, and 7 days old.