Note: This story has been updated to reflect additional charges filed in the case as well as a reported domestic violence incident.

ANDERSON, Ind. – When officers entered an Anderson home in late October, the smell of urine and pet feces was so overwhelming, they could only bear to spend a couple of minutes inside.

The conditions inside the home housing three children ages 15, 14 and 11 led to charges against their mother, 42-year-old Crystal Dawn Winchester. Police arrested her on three counts of neglect of a dependent.

Her husband, who goes by the names of Elisha Etchison and Richard Winchester, also faces three neglect charges, although he hasn’t yet been arrested.

Police made several attempts to reach him, according to court documents, but were unsuccessful. In addition, he “also became unavailable after he was checked into an inpatient mental health facility,” police said.

Authorities were also investigating a November domestic violence incident involving the couple in which they recommended charges of domestic battery and strangulation against the husband. They had been called to the home on Nov. 13 in response to a suicidal person at the address.

The neglect charges stem from an investigation that began on Oct. 28, when one of the children living at the home called their grandmother, who in turn called the police to check on the children.

Officers arrived to find what they called “deplorable” living conditions inside the home. Caitlin Morency, the sheriff’s deputy whose account appeared in the probable cause affidavit, wrote that the smell of “urine and feces” was noticeable before stepping onto the porch.

I saw animal feces all over the floor, windowsills and other surfaces. It appeared to be smeared up several walls and the washing machine in the bathroom.

Deputy Morency’s account from the probable cause affidavit

Morency “immediately became nauseous and lightheaded” due to the smell and had to step outside “less than a couple minutes” after entering.

Testing of the air quality inside the home found 5 parts per million of ammonia, which “was capable of causing adverse health conditions if someone spent a long enough time there or resided there,” according to the East Madison Fire Territory.

During interviews with police, the children said two German shepherds lived at the house and had a litter of puppies. Several cats also lived there, they said, adding that Winchester rarely cleaned the house and that it was up to them to do it. Sometimes, they were forced to clean as punishment, according to court documents.

The children said Winchester was barely home at night and usually came back late after they’d gone to sleep. They complained about the lack of heat in the house and told investigators their mother wanted to get the heat fixed but didn’t want anyone to come inside before they cleaned the house, given its current state.

The children also expressed concerns about a lack of food at home. They told police they “wouldn’t be eating on the regular” without the help of their grandmother.

During an interview with police, Winchester said she “doesn’t ever remember there being a time that her kids told her there wasn’t food for them to eat at the house.” She also pushed back at their claims that she stayed out all night, stating that she stayed at the house “almost every night.”

She attempted to shift the blame for the filthy conditions inside the house to her spouse, saying he refused to get rid of the dogs or clean up after them. She reported in November that her husband had attempted to strangle her, leading authorities to seek charges in the case.

According to court records, the judge issued an order barring Winchester from contacting her children. She has also been charged with obstruction of justice.