SKOWHEGAN — Apartment house neighbors of a woman arrested amid squalid conditions early Sunday on a charge of endangering the welfare of her baby said Tuesday that she is a good mother but might be depressed because her boyfriend is in jail.

Stephanie Freeman, 28, was arrested after police found her lying unconscious next to a naked 2-year-old in an apartment filthy with cat feces, vomit, empty prescription bottles and beer cans. She was later released on personal recognizance bail after an initial court appearance Monday, when she pleaded not guilty.

Freeman also was ordered to sign up for the Somerset County Community Corrections Program and to comply with all Department of Health and Human Services safety plans.

“I know her. She seems like she’s a good mother,” one of Freeman’s neighbors on Waterville Road, Natasha Vicaire, said Tuesday morning. “She drinks, but who doesn’t? She loves her kid unconditionally.”

The child is with a family member whose identity was not released, and the state Office of Child and Family Services has begun the process of taking custody.

According to a police affidavit in support of probable cause for Freeman’s arrest, Freeman “did not seem sorrowful or even ask to say goodbye to her child” after she was arrested.

The court document, entered by Officer Brian Gardiner, notes that he had been to the apartment once before, responding to “repeated 911 hangup calls” after Freeman had let a stranger into her apartment and was afraid. Gardiner wrote that he and another officer banged loudly and repeatedly on Freeman’s door early Sunday but got no response.

The door was dead-bolted shut, so the officers got a ladder and looked through the apartment window. A neighbor told Gardiner that Freeman had been “drinking every day.” The officers climbed through the window and tried to wake Freeman.

“There was raw spaghetti all over the kitchen floor along with Comet that was strewn about,” Gardiner wrote in the affidavit. He also saw cat feces, human vomit and spilled beer on the floor.

“Stephanie admitted to drinking tonight,” he wrote. “It was clear that Stephanie was unable to care for her child and the living conditions were atrocious. Uncapped pill bottles were about the residence.”

Vicaire said that when Freeman got out of jail Sunday, she said her daughter had been sick the night that she passed out. The baby fell asleep, then Freeman fell asleep, too, not realizing that the music had been loud enough for someone to call the police. Police responded and could hear music blaring from the apartment. Unable to get the attention of anyone in the apartment, the officers looked through an open window on the side of the building and saw “a small infant with no clothes on and an adult female in the fetal position” lying on the floor, according to Skowhegan police Chief David Bucknam.

After the officers saw the debris scattered around the apartment and “fearing for the welfare of the residents,” they climbed through the window and tried to wake up the woman, later identified as Freeman.

“The infant child woke, but they were unable to keep the female awake due to her level of intoxication,” Bucknam said. “DHHS and medical units were called to the scene to assist.”

Once inside the apartment, the officers also noticed that there was no electrical power to the unit and that someone had used an extension cord from a neighboring apartment to play a radio. In the refrigerator the officers found a half-empty, 30-rack of beer and an old pack of cheese, but no other food.

Vicaire said Freeman and her baby daughter, who is about 2 years old, had lived in the apartment for a couple of months. Freeman’s Facebook page says she is from Phippsburg and most recently lived in Jackman.

“She has a boyfriend, but he’s actually currently in jail,” she said. “He had a warrant and they went out on the Fourth of July, and they picked him up on the walking bridge watching the fireworks together.”

There were no official town fireworks that night, but individual people set off their own displays over the Kennebec River.

“I think another reason why she’s going, like, drinking so much, is because of depression, not being with him,” Vicaire, 28, said from the top landing of the multi-unit apartment house.

The boyfriend, Adam Clarke, 32, is serving time at the Somerset County Jail in East Madison, according to the jail administrator. It was not immediately clear Tuesday what Clarke’s offense was.

Freeman was not at home or did not answer the door when a reporter knocked on her door Tuesday morning and again Tuesday afternoon. A radio again was blasting loud rock music from inside the apartment.

Another neighbor, Shane Owen, 32, agreed with Vicaire about Freeman being a good person.

“She’s an excellent mom,” Owen said. “She’s going through a rough spot because of her man being in jail. Other than that, she’s a good person.”

Vicaire and Owen said they were certain that Freeman is not a drug addict. They said she had been on Suboxone but had been clean for months.

The court appointed Skowhegan lawyer John Martin as lawyer for the day Monday representing Freeman. The charge against her is a class D misdemeanor, punishable by not more than a year in jail.

A dispositional hearing is scheduled for Sept. 27, with a tentative trial date of Nov. 16.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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