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Neighbors of filthy home in Canfield report nothing out of the ordinary



Published: Thu, October 29, 2009 @ 12:10 a.m.

By Elise Franco

CANFIELD — Neighbors said Betsy and Brian Spin, who are charged with child endangering and animal cruelty, seemed like a nice, quiet couple.

Joan Schomer, who moved in next door to the Spins on Brookpark Drive five years ago, said she was shocked when she heard of the events that ultimately led to the couple’s arrest Tuesday.

“It really took me by surprise because I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary,” Schomer said. “I just never saw any signs that anything like that was going on next door.”

Brian Spin, 38, and Betsy Spin, 32, were arrested Tuesday on two counts of child endangering and nine counts of animal cruelty. Canfield police removed two children, ages 7 and 2, and 10 animals from 535 Brookpark Drive last Thursday after a woman driving by called to report several dogs that looked malnourished running in the street near the home.

Atty. Ross Smith of Youngstown entered not guilty pleas Wednesday on behalf of the couple. They are scheduled for a pre-trial at 9 a.m. Dec. 11 at Mahoning County Area Court in Canfield. Ross did not return phone calls requesting comment on Wednesday.

Detective Brian McGivern said police found the family living in a house filled with mold, garbage, animal and human waste.

Schomer said she never smelled anything that would make her suspicious of what was going on inside the house.

“There was no odor at all,” she said. “We’re on the opposite side of where I think the dogs were kept, but there was no odor, nothing.”

Harry Johnston, who lives on Brookpark two houses from the Spins, also said he did not sense anything out of the ordinary.

“To tell you the truth, I never really got that close,” he said. “I didn’t even know they had so many animals.”

Johnston said the only time he really saw the family was during the evening.

“They walked those kids every night. I could see them going up the street,” he said. “Other than that I didn’t see them.”

A former neighbor, who requested her name not be used, said she lived near the Spins for about five years when they lived at 655 Blueberry Hill. She said when she saw Betsy Spin in the yard with the older child, he was always covered head-to-toe in sweaters, pants and gloves.

The neighbor, who has lived at her residence for 32 years, said once the couple brought two pit bulls home she began to notice a smell.

“I figured she was just negligent with cleaning up after them in the yard,” she said. “I knew she wasn’t the cleanest person, but this is just unbelievable.”

Both said Betsy Spin always waved or said hello if she saw them on the street on in their front yards.

“They just seemed like a kind of a quiet couple that didn’t socialize a lot,” Schomer said. “It’s not that they were unfriendly, they just kept to themselves.”

The children are in the custody of Mahoning County Children Services for at least 30 days and will undergo evaluations, McGivern said. He said when removed from the home, the boys were very dirty but in good health.

Police Chief Chuck Colucci said the Mahoning County District Board of Health will decide within 30 days whether the house is fit to be refurbished or if it will need to be demolished.

efranco@vindy.com


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