Two charged in Tyrone child endangerment case

After an investigation that involved several agencies, two people have been charged in a child endangerment case that stemmed from a complaint regarding several animals and reptiles at a duplex in Tyrone.
Tyrone Borough Police went to the address at 326 W. 15th Street after being contacted by Borough code enforcement officer Tom Lang on Oct. 19.
A criminal complaint filed against Adam L. and Andora K. Gardner said police went there to assist Lang regarding code violations on one side of the duplex.
The complaint said officers contacted Adam Gardner who refused to let authorities into the residence. Police said he stated he didn’t live at the residence. However, Tyrone Police Chief Joseph Beachem told The Daily Herald the W. 15th Street address was Gardner’s residence.
The complaint noted Gardner was separated from his wife and he was at the residence taking a nap. Police said Andora Gardner arrived at the scene a short time later and let authorities into the residence.
Officials noted a large amount of garbage on the porch. The officer who filed the complaint, Jessica Barlick, said a smell of feces inside the residence “was so strong it was hard for officers to breathe.”
The police complaint noted authorities saw many animals at the residence. The complaint said they included seven cats, three dogs, two red-ear sliders, two gerbils, one house gecko, 11 feeder mice, one dwarf hamster, five feeder rats, one guinea pig, one snyder slink, two parakeets, two exotic birds, one squirrel, one turtle and numerous lizards and snakes.
Other details noted in the complaint against the Gardners included an observation of feces on the floor of the residence, the bed and children’s toys. Litter boxes were said to be overflowing and the carpet was animal-stained. A dead rat was found behind the toilet in a bathroom. Cats were observed eating cat food from the kitchen table. Animal cages with dirty water were noted throughout the residence. Police said the odor of the residence was strong enough that it could be smelled outside. Police said the house was infested with fleas and flies. The backyard was littered with dog feces.
Police said the Gardners have two children ages eight and five. According to the criminal complaint, officer Barlick spoke with a Children and Youth Services worker who told her the children reside at the side of the duplex that was investigated. Police said the Gardners had been advised to clean up the residence by CYS.
Police said the squirrel was removed by a game commission officer and later put to sleep because of a rabies fear. However, tests showed the animal was not infected. Police said Andora Gardner told them some of the reptiles were aggressive. The Central Pennsylvania Humane Society removed 31 animals from the residence.
Lang determined the residence was found to be “unfit for human occupancy.” He condemned the residence on Oct. 20. The Gardners were told they could no longer occupy it. Lang said the Gardners were allowed to go into the property to remove their belongings but could not use it for living purposes such as staying overnight to sleep, etc.
Lang said the condemnation came about because of the “sanitary conditions” or lack thereof at the residence. He said the owner of the building, Dennis Fink, was issued the condemnation notice. It is the owner that is responsible for bringing the structure back into compliance.
Lang confirmed he had investigated a previous problem at the residence. Andora Gardner had complained about a water leak in the bathroom. Lang said he informed the landlord. He also indicated he never heard anything further about the matter.
In addition to the child endangerment charges, the Gardners also were issued summary offenses regarding violations concerning the animals.
The Gardners have publicly disputed some of the claims made by authorities in the case. The Daily Herald made attempts this week to reach the Gardners including checking under both names with directory assistance. There was no listing for either. Calls were also placed to several Tyrone area phone numbers listed under the last name “Gardner” in the latest phone directory in an attempt to reach Adam Gardner. An attempt was also made to reach Andora Gardner through another method but was not successful.
The charges against the Gardners were filed at Magisterial District Judge Fred Miller’s office earlier this week. His office said they both face a preliminary hearing on Nov. 29.