By Calvin Palmer
A Massachusetts mother appeared in court today after allegedly locking her three-year-old son in an attic where the temperature reached more than 100 degrees.
Kristen Paquette, 27, of Lowell, was arraigned at Lowell District Court on charges of reckless endangerment to a child and assault and battery on a child. She was held on $10,000 bail.
Acting on a tip off, police yesterday found the boy naked and covered in urine and feces. They estimated the temperature inside the attic at more than 100 degrees. The attic door was locked and the only window was nailed shut.
Prosecutor Dan Harren said feces-covered child-size fingerprints were on the wall and outside the attic a similarly filthy mattress was surrounded by hundreds of flies.
Investigators said Paquette forced the boy into the attic, and that it “was not an isolated incident”.
Harren said that other children in the apartment told police: “Mommy does this when she gets angry.”
“When asked how long the child had been upstairs, the defendant admitted, `About an hour,’ in a nonchalant manner,” Harren said.
The woman’s father, Alfred Paquette, said police were misrepresenting the situation. He said his daughter is a single mother who is overwhelmed by her four children — a daughter and three sons.
Alfred Paquette said the first floor of the home is clean, and the four children seem happy and never appeared abused.
Paquette’s defense attorney, Kathleen Moore, told Judge Neil Walker, “It is clear this is a woman who needed help and didn’t know how to ask for it and didn’t ask for it.”
Two of the other children, ages 6 and 9, were placed in the custody of the Department of Children and Families, as was a third child who was not home at the time.
Alfred Paquette said he was with the child at Fenway Park, watching the Boston Red Sox defeat the Oakland Athletics.
Inspectors from the city’s health department condemned the apartment.