DENVER - Dressed in a green robe, 66-year-old Wayne Sperling was quick to speak of conspiracy theories and a distrust of a government he once loved. His words rambled, but the moment he was asked about the four children and his common-law wife, Sperling's words grew more focused.
"If I start talking, I'll probably start crying. We're already convicted," he recently told 9Wants to Know. "My kids, every day, would get up into my arms."
Prosecutors have charged Sperling and Lorinda Bailey, 35, with multiple counts of felony child abuse. Both are currently out in lieu of bond and expected back in court for a preliminary hearing on the case next week. Denver police records indicate investigators believe Sperling and Bailey left four of their children, between the ages of two and six, inside a filthy home and kept them "non-verbal and malnourished."
The case has generated national attention with eye-popping headlines and disturbing allegations.
Sperling told 9Wants to Know he remains worried about a fair case.
"You just can't fight the city, and everybody has got their mind made up. In fact, they've had them made up for a long time," he said.
When asked if his children could speak, Sperling insisted they could.
Sperling would not address additional specifics of the case and would not answer questions about a 2006 child abuse case. He and Bailey eventually pleaded guilty to misdemeanor child abuse stemming from a case in which two of their children were found playing on nearby 18th Avenue in October 2006.
In 2009, following years of termination proceedings, they lost custody of three of their oldest children. For yet to be known reasons, the two were allowed to keep custody of two additional children who were born after the original 2006 case.
Since then, Sperling and Bailey have gone on to have two more children. It's why there were four children living in the couple's apartment at the time of the most recent case.
"How do we know you love your kids?" 9Wants to Know asked.
"Bring those kids here and see," Sperling replied.
It's a wish that's not likely to be granted anytime soon. The four kids involved in the 2013 case have since been taken to protective services. The three children involved in the 2006 case are now living with adoptive parents in the Denver metro area and in southeastern Colorado.
In order to protect the identity of those children, 9News has chosen not to use the families' last names. We recently traveled to Lamar to meet two of those children who are now the custody of Meagan and Jeff.
"We've just sort of tried really hard to make them comfortable, happy and healthy. We devoted some time to them and now look at what's happened," Jeff said.
The children, now seven and nine, were once non-verbal. After a difficult first year, a year in which Meagan and Jeff openly wondered if they could continue on as parents, the two adopted children now appear to be thriving.
Both are near grade-level in school and highly talkative.
"It just warms your heart to see the changes they've gone through. We know the people they are becoming, and we're really proud of them," Jeff said.
Yet the news of the most recent arrest involving the birth-parents of their boy and girl has them both upset.
Meagan said she found out when people started forwarding online articles involving the case.
"I didn't know what to think. I ran to the computer, and I looked at a story. Tears started running down my face because this is exactly the same thing. It's the same thing. It's the same people. It's not a similar family. It's the same people who did this two times," Meagan said.
"I just don't know how this was overlooked. That's the only way I can put it. It had to be overlooked, but why? Why?" she added.
She said she and Jeff have told their adopted children some of the truth about their former parents.
"They know their parents didn't know how to be parents, and so we became blessed in order to become their parents," she said.
She'd like to try to adopt some of the younger children who were recently taken away, but she knows resources won't allow for that.
"If I had the resources I would pick up the phone and scoop [all four] up, but I can't. I just hope somebody will," she said.
Wayne Sperling said he still hopes the courts will consider him to be a good father, but he did not sound terribly optimistic.
"I can't convince nobody," he said. "I can only say it, and you have to see it."
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