MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee woman prosecutors said neglected six children who were in her care in a Milwaukee home that was deemed not fit for any human or animal to live in was sentenced to probation Wednesday, Feb. 19.
Tracey Shields, 44, on Jan. 16 pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor charges -- two counts of neglecting a child (specified harm did not occur) and one count of battery.
She was sentenced to serve six months in the House of Correction (straight time with credit for seven days' time served), which was stayed, plus 24 months' probation on the child neglect convictions -- and six months in the House of Correction, which was stayed, and 24 months' probation on the battery conviction.
The battery sentence was ordered to be served consecutively to the child neglect sentences -- for a total of 48 months' probation.
Behind the doors of the home on 64th Street between Silver Spring Drive and Villard Avenue, it was seemingly a house of horrors for the children living inside. Neighbors told FOX6 News Shields neglected the six children in her care.
"It's awful," said one neighbor. "The whole neighborhood suspected what was going on."
Court documents said Shields got "drunk every day," and prosecutors said she abused the children, ages 8 to 14 -- even biting one of them in the face and keeping them in deplorable conditions.
"She would be outside, just totally belligerent," said the neighbor. "One gentleman, in particular, we know went and actually cleaned the house at one given time because of the kids' situation."
Reports indicated the "pungent smell of the home could be smelled from outside of the house. There were rats running along the outside of the home. The inside of the entire home was covered in animal feces, infested with flies, and filled with garbage. It was nearly impossible to walk through the home due to the amount of animal feces and garbage on the floor." The complaint also noted that the "bathroom sink was overflowing with garbage, making it unusable" -- and that there "was no edible food in the home; only alcohol. It did not appear that the home had running water."
Neighbors said they did what they could to help.
"We would let them play in the pool. We would let them eat with my grandson. Everything. We knew they haven't been fed," the neighbor said.
When Shields was arrested, police said she was "swaying and slurring her words" and told officers, "I can drink when I want to."
The Milwaukee Child Advocacy Center of Children's Wisconsin did respond to the case -- and the Milwaukee Department of Neighborhood Services was notified of the conditions at the home.