Couple charged with child neglect after deputies find feces in home

Anson, Cole
Anson, Cole

Two Bluffton children, ages 1 and 5, have been removed from their home after investigators found animal feces on the walls and floor of their home and a dying ferret in a bedroom, according to arrest warrants for their father and his girlfriend.

Cole Walker Anson, 32, father of both children, and his girlfriend, Lauren Avery Ledford, 18, the mother of the 1-year-old, were both charged Friday with felony child neglect.

In April, Beaufort County Sheriff's Office investigators went to Old South Apartments on Edgewater Circle after reports that the 5-year-old had large bruises on his arms, Master Sgt. Mike Riley said Wednesday. The child told investigators he had been bitten by a dog, but the bruises looked suspicious, prompting the Sheriff's Office to ask the S.C. Department of Social Services to investigate, Riley said.

On Friday, deputies accompanied DSS officers to the home and found animal feces on the floor and walls; bloody undergarments on the floor; dirty, maggot-covered dishes in the kitchen; and rotting food in the refrigerator, according to arrest warrants.

Deputies also found a dying ferret in a bedroom. Ledford was charged with ill treatment of animals -- a misdemeanor, Riley said.

Both cases will be presented to a Beaufort County grand jury for possible indictment Oct. 28, said Daniel Brownstein, a 14th Circuit Solicitor's Office spokesman.

If convicted of the neglect charges, the couple face up to 10 years in prison, Brownstein said.

The children have been placed in foster care, where they will remain until a judge rules on the case, he said.

"The situation the children were in and the environment dictated us to remove them from the home," Riley said.

No other allegations of abuse were reported against the couple before April, nor have they been charged with similar incidents in other states, Riley said.

The couple were released Saturday morning on their own recognizance from the Beaufort Detention Center jail, according to the jail log.