Former Colorado Springs City Council member arrested after son found in unsanitary home

12:32 AM, May 17, 2013   |    comments
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COLORADO SPRINGS - A 13-year-old boy with autism was found in what police called unsanitary conditions Thursday in a Colorado Springs home.

Police were called to the home in the 6100 block of Corinth Drive by a concerned neighbor around 11:50 a.m.

Police say the boy was found alone, naked in a home littered in human feces. Dead and living rodents were also found throughout the residence.

"When we get these types of reports, our officers respond and do a very careful scene investigation," Colorado Springs Police spokesperson Larry Herbert said. "It's very important to the elements of the offence in a child abuse case."

The boy told police he is an only child, home-schooled, and does not remember ever being outside the house. Neighbors told police they have not seen the boy outside in several years.

The boy was treated at a local hospital and released into the custody of the Department of Human Services.

The teen's parents, Charles Wingate and Sharon Starkey, were not home at the time police were called but were later arrested. They were issued a summons for child neglect and endangerment.

Wingate talked to 9NEWS Reporter Meagan Fitzgerald Thursday night. He denies the allegations that he kept his son in squalor. He said his home is clean and his son was safe.

Wingate is a former Colorado Springs City Council member. He was elected to the city council in 2001 and resigned in 2003, with two years remaining in his term.

Wingate has a long criminal history. He left office while facing accusations of embezzlement, forgery and fraud for illegally using credit cards. He later pleaded guilty to the embezzlement charge.

He was also accused of downloading pornography on a city-owned computer. He denied the accusation and was never charged.

The house where the boy was found was condemned by the city until it can be brought up to code.

"The conditions have to be remedied, and then there has to be an inspection that takes place to be able to demonstrate that the house has been cleaned up and made sanitary for human habitation," Herbert said.

Police say this case is a good reminder the role neighbors can play in alerting police to possible criminal activity, especially in the wake of the Cleveland kidnappings.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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