Family speaks after 6 children found in abandoned home


by Gene Kang

Posted on July 23, 2013 at 12:26 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 23 at 11:53 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Six children who were living in deplorable conditions, according to police, are now at the Home of the Innocents.

They were living in a vacant home with Christopher Strickland, 33, and his wife Debra Combs, 32.

"There's no water, air conditioning and again there was just garbage everywhere,"  LMPD officer, Carey Klain, said.

Police say Strickland kicked in the door around midnight then slept on the floor with Combs and her six children. They included 4-year-old twins and children ages 5, 7, 9 and 11.

They believe the homeless family lived here since May.

"The facilities they were using for the restroom was just a bowl on the ground," Klain said.

Strickland's sister-in-law says the couple got married two weeks ago and the family stayed at her house across the street at the 1800 block of Bank in the Portland neighborhood.

"They're clean, their hair is brushed and they have different clothes on every time I see them and if they needed to use the bathroom, they've used my bathroom and used my shower," Strickland’s sister-in-law, Kristina Strickland, said.

Kristina says they weren't homeless.

There is some peace and quiet at the Home of the Innocents where 4,000 children are served.

Their programs include compassionate care for abandoned children and those that are medically-fragile or have special needs.

The six kids are now temporarily living in cottages until the court system is involved and relocates them.

"We'll make them as comfortable as possible and try to reduce the fear and the trauma as much as we can,” Gordon Brown, Home of Innocents CEO, said.

Strickland was convicted of facilitating the murder of his mother in 1995 when he was 16.

He helped his stepfather and younger brother by allowing a hired hit man to hide in his bedroom. But Kristina says Strickland was the victim.

"His mother was murdered by her husband at the time and when you have a gun in your mouth and you have a man telling you to do something, you're going to do what you're told," Strickland said.


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