LOCAL L.A. Now

Girl living in home that smelled of feces, rotting food, cops say

A 38-year-old Los Angeles man and his girlfriend face child abuse-related charges after officers discovered they had been keeping their 11-year-old daughter in filthy living conditions where Mexican candy was allegedly being sold as heroin, police said.

Officers described the home of Thomas Casillas, 38, and his girlfriend, Vanessa Hidalgo, 36, in the 4700 block of Eagle Rock Boulevard, as being in "complete disarray" and that it "smelled of urine and feces and rotting food," said Tahnee Lightfoot, a spokeswoman for the Glendale police, which responded to the residence.

The couple, arrested March 18, face charges for maintaining a harmful living situation for their daughter inside their home, according to a Los Angeles County Superior Court criminal complaint.

Police also reported finding ammunition and what they believed to be heroin inside the home, the Glendale News-Press reported. Methamphetamine pipes were also found scattered throughout the home, as well as materials used to package drugs, Lightfoot said.

But shortly after his arrest, Casillas told officers that what they believed to be heroin was in fact Mexican candy, police said.

Casillas has been previously convicted of possessing drugs for sale and carrying a loaded firearm, according to court records. Hidalgo was convicted of child abuse in 2001.

According to detectives, Hidalgo was on probation for her role in a 2008 gang-related shooting. She is reportedly affiliated with a Northeast Los Angeles gang, police said.

The Department of Children and Family Services took the couple's daughter into protective custody after determining the home's living conditions were not suitable.

The couple pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from last week's arrest.

They are scheduled to appear April 2 in a Los Angeles courtroom for their preliminary hearing.

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veronica.rocha@latimes.com

Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA

Veronica Rocha is a Times Community News staff writer.

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