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Dead boy lived in squalid home with more than 100 animals

Updated: November 9, 2011 2:51PM



State authorities are investigating after a 14-year-old boy died of pneumonia and his family — including three other children under age 17 — were found living with more than 100 animals in squalid conditions in Berwyn.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is investigating the mother of Matthew Degner, who was pronounced dead at MacNeal Hospital on Thursday afternoon, officials said. His boy’s siblings were removed from the home, authorities said.

An autopsy Friday determined Degner died of bronchopneumonia and his death was ruled natural, according to the medical examiner’s office.

Authorities found more than 100 animals — including 40 cats, 24 birds and at least one squirrel — inside the home, which was also infested with bugs. Feces were found in the home, which had no running water, sources said.

Animal control officers with the Cook County sheriff’s office were at the home Thursday and Friday.

“Our animal control officers who have been in some pretty horrific and disgusting environments said this home was easily the worst they’ve been in,’’ said sheriff’s spokesman Steve Patterson.

DCFS spokesman Kendall Marlowe said the agency is investigating allegations of neglect against Degner’s mother, although DCFS had no previous contact with the family.

Three siblings between the ages of 12 and 17 were treated and released from a local hospital and will receive follow up therapy, Marlowe said.

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