Children Allege Monkey Attacks; Authorities Act - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Children Allege Monkey Attacks; Authorities Act

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At first glance, the country setting seems idyllic, until you read the nine page affidavit alleging child abuse and neglect.

"Very surprised, unbelievable," said neighbor Jim Lewis, shocked to hear of the long list of accusations against Deidre Matthews.

"Deidre is a little bit different, but not any different than a lot of people. I never ever saw that in her," he said.

Amongst the allegations, that due to prescription drug abuse, she's unable to properly care for the 9 children in the home ages 4 to 17.

"They were always well clothed, well fed, well mannered," said Lewis.

But when authorities were called by one of the children and paid a visit, their affidavit reports a much different scene; with cockroaches everywhere, filthy living conditions, and at least one child extremely underweight; and then there were the monkey bites.

"I just heard about the monkeys, I never saw any monkeys," said Lewis.

The family owned several exotic animals, reports the affidavit, with at one point, approximately 20 pet monkeys, including a large spider monkey, which reportedly savagely bit two of the children on separate occasions, and that Matthews didn't take them to get medical treatment because she was scared the kids would be taken away.

"It's unbelievable, cause they were, from what I knew, good people," said Lewis.

All 9 children have been placed into the homes of other family members or close friends until the investigation is complete.

"I wish them blessed," said Lewis.

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