Toddlers found living in 'horrific' conditions, Donnalee Ballard arrested

4:33 PM, Dec 4, 2013   |    comments
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Venice, Florida -- A Sarasota County mother is facing charges of child neglect after deputies say they found two toddlers living in "horrific" conditions and with a registered sex offender.

Investigators were first called out to the mobile home on Tuesday night in search of that sex offender, James Denegall, who was wanted for violating his probation.

SEE ALSO: Look up sex offenders in your area

Deputies were greeted by Donnalee Ballard, who said the suspect lived with her and that he would be home soon. She then invited the deputies to wait inside.

Once in the home, investigators saw 1- and 2-year-old children walking barefoot on floors covered in garbage, blood and rotting food.  Dirty diapers had been smashed into the carpet and beer cans and drug paraphernalia also littered the ground.

According to her arrest report, Ballard admitted to being addicted to drugs and said that she "needed to get help."  When asked why she was allowing her children to live with a registered sex offender, she said that Denegall was innocent.

Deputies called for Sarasota County EMS to come to the home and evaluate the children, and it was found one of them had a high fever.  

Ballard allegedly said she knew the child had a fever the day before, but did not seek medical treatment.

The Department of Children and Families arrived and took the children into custody.  

Ballard was arrested and is currently held without bond. Denegall, meanwhile, saw the law enforcement activity when he arrived at the mobile home park and tried to leave, but law enforcement was able to quickly take him into custody.

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