JERSEY CITY, NJ — It was the smell emanating from inside this home in Jersey City, not to mention the fleas and mosquitoes, neighbors told authorities that prompted them to call.
But for weeks, some members of the Filipino community here had been worrying. An elderly woman known as “Tita Cora,” who had been involved in various Filipino events for many years, had not been seen. They raised their concerns with local officials.
“I really kind of applaud the community in some sense while this is a very sad and tragic situation, if members of the community hadn’t spoken up, and raised concerns about the health and well being of the family, in particular the grandmother and the two children, the city would have never initiated the investigations,” said Rolando R. Lavarro Jr., Jersey City Council president.
On Monday morning, the city’s Quality of Life task force went into this home on Wayne Street and removed two children and 83-year-old Cora Bisogno.
Her daughter and the mother of the two children, 48-year-old Bernadette Bisogno, was arrested and charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child and one count of neglecting the elderly.
“It had been an ongoing investigation it didn’t just happen overnight, I can tell you that much, and it spanned several weeks, up to 8 weeks, in which there were efforts made to safeguard the family and to see what conditions of the home were.”
According to reports, officials found the boys covered in fleas.
They also removed nine dogs, which appeared to have skin disease. The area where they were kept was covered with feces.
The two-story home has now been locked.
The children, ages 11 and 16 years old, have been placed with New Jersey’s Child Protection Agency. The elderly woman is in the hospital and ready to be released.
But there’s a concern that she has nowhere to go.
“We’re working on that to make sure that she’s not homeless. I don’t think the city would discharge her and would allow her to go with no place to go to.”
Bisogno is being held on a $500 bail at the Hudson County jail. Her next court date is on September 24th.
As for the children and their grandmother, representatives of the city council will be meeting with some members of the Filipino community to figure out how to help the family.