Mother gets jail time for letting kids live in squalor

Published 10:48 am Saturday, March 7, 2015

A Pennsylvania woman has been given jail time followed by up to five years of probation for letting her three young children live in deplorable conditions at their home.

Police became aware of the kids’ living conditions almost a year ago, after the woman’s 4-year-old son accidentally fired a pistol found in the home, injuring his 2-year-old brother.

Tiffany Jean Whitman, 24, was sentenced Thursday by Crawford County Judge John Spataro to up to two years in jail, to be followed by five years of probation.

Whitman pleaded guilty in January to a single count of endangering the welfare of children — graded as a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

When she entered her guilty plea Jan. 8, Whitman claimed her depression caused her to let her three young children live in squalor.

Whitman and her husband, Mark L. Whitman, 24, were charged in 2014 by Pennsylvania State Police for what police described as “deplorable conditions” for the children at the Whitman home. Mark Whitman currently is serving time in Crawford County jail.

Initially, state police were called to Whitman’s Wayne Township home after the couple’s then 4-year-old son wounded his then 2-year-old brother by firing a gun the older child had found inside the home. The young boy was hit in the face by a bullet fired from the gun, according to police. The wounded child has since recovered.

The two boys involved in the shooting and a third child, a sibling of the boys, have been in the care of relatives since the incident, according to Crawford County District Attorney Francis Schultz.

According to the affidavit of probable cause in the case, the couple’s three children were playing in the home while Tiffany Whitman slept, when one of the children found a loaded .380 Ruger pistol in an unlocked dresser drawer on April 14, 2014, at 2:30 p.m.

In the police search of the home after the shooting incident, authorities found “incomprehensible” living conditions, according to the police affidavit.

Police described the residence as being in total disarray, with rotten garbage scattered all over the kitchen floor, garbage and dirty clothing strewn about one of the children’s bedrooms with feces and other stains on the walls, floor and mattress. Garbage and old cigarette butts were reportedly found in the bottom of the family’s dirt-stained bathtub.

Gushard writes for The Meadville (PA.) Tribune