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Photo gallery: Father, grandmother had sought custody of Lorain kids found living in filth


LORAIN — The father of three of Erica Perez’s children tried to gain custody of them, but Lorain County Children Services would not recommend him for custody because he had a criminal record, according to the man’s mother.

Esther Wyatt, mother of Travis Wyatt and grandmother to Wyatt and Perez’s three children, also said she personally contacted Children Services in 2005 or 2006 when the children told her that Perez did not cook them dinner. She said her grandchildren smelled like urine and their hair was uncombed.

Perez, 28, remains jailed on seven counts of child endangering and other charges after Lorain police were called to her Long Avenue home for a neighbor dispute July 5 and police found the pregnant Perez intoxicated and seven of her children living in a dirty, garbage-filled home.

Wyatt said Children Services reviewed her son’s request and chose not to recommend him for custody. But she said she is willing to care for the children herself as she also has custody of a child her son fathered with another mother.

Court records show Travis Wyatt was convicted of domestic violence twice — in 2004 and 2006 — and has a current domestic violence case in Lorain County Court of Common Pleas.

Travis Wyatt also has convictions for violation of a temporary protection order, resisting arrest and obstructing official business in 2004 and unauthorized use of property in 2011. He is facing charges of possession of a Schedule II controlled substance, aggravated possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia.

His driving privileges were suspended in April 2009 for failing to pay child support and again in January 2010 for failing to reinstate his license.

Children Services, citing confidentiality rules, has declined to discuss the Perez case in any detail. Police reports show the agency was contacted as far back as 2001 in regards to Perez’s parenting — her sister told police at that time that Erica Perez had abandoned her young son, an eighth child who wasn’t in the home for the July 5 incident.

Children Services also has refused to discuss why the children remained in the home even though caseworkers had visited it in June, roughly two weeks before Perez was arrested. In all, six case workers have worked with Perez over the years, and Children Services has said it is reviewing its management of the case.

A neighbor of Perez, who refused to provide her name, said she moved to Long Avenue in March and saw Perez’s baby walking down the street alone wearing only a diaper. She said her daughter also visited the Perez home and told her that the children were bathing in the sink and the home was in poor condition.

She said she personally did not call Children Services, but she learned from other neighbors that Children Services was involved with the family. She said case workers bought an inflatable pool for Perez’s children early this summer.

Perez’s family members, who took the children after they were removed from the home, have said that they thought Children Services was working with Perez’s mother, Jeannette Sierra, to give her custody of the children. Esther Wyatt contends she’s better-suited to care for her grandchildren.

“The kids want to be with me,” Wyatt said. “(Children Services) tried to say that I just wanted to take the babies for food checks and stamps. That’s not why I want them. I want to take care of the babies.”

Perez, contacted by The Chronicle-Telegram, declined to be interviewed Tuesday.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or

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