DOYLESTOWN, PA — The Bucks County District Attorney’s Office announced that a Middletown Township couple was convicted in absentia Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021, in a case of child neglect one doctor described as the worst he’s ever seen.
Albert Dunkowski, 54, and Christine Dunkowski, 47, were convicted by a Bucks County jury of three counts each of endangering the welfare of a child.
The Dunkowskis appeared for the first two days of trial but did not show Wednesday. After attempts to locate them were unsuccessful, President Judge Wallace H. Bateman Jr. issued bench warrants.
Bateman allowed closing arguments to continue, and jurors deliberated for about three hours before returning with a verdict.
Sentencing was deferred until the Dunkowskis can be located.
At about 2 a.m. on Aug. 27, 2019, patrol officers with the Middletown Township Police Department found the Dunkowskis and four of their children sleeping in a vehicle at the Woodbourne Train Station at 903 N. Woodbourne Road. Two other children were found staying with family friends.
Bugs were crawling out of the vehicle, which was filled with trash and had an overwhelming smell of urine and feces, Deputy District Attorney Matt Lannetti said. The trash was piled so high, paramedics had a tough time finding one of the children.
“Letting your children exist in that environment is child endangerment,” Lannetti said.
The children appeared sickly, but the Dunkowskis refused to allow the children to be taken to the hospital. A paramedic at the scene notified an emergency room doctor at St. Mary Medical Center about the condition of the children and the Penndel Middletown Rescue Squad took the children to the hospital based on the doctor’s recommendations.
A pediatric emergency room physician testified that the children showed signs of severe neglect and abuse and called it one of the worst cases he’s ever seen.
The doctor said all four of the children in the vehicle were suffering from severe malnutrition and were soaked in urine and wearing diapers that had not been changed in a long time, including a 9-year-old boy.
One of the children, a daughter with cerebral palsy, had bed sores on her body from lying in the same place for a long time.
Police later located two of the Dunkowskis’ other children.
One child was staying at a family friend’s house and had severe dental neglect that made it impossible for her to chew from one side of her mouth. The sixth child was found by police in Falls Township and appeared severely malnourished and 30 pounds underweight.
None of the children were enrolled in school, and the Dunkowskis never sought help from social services agencies, which is how they were able to hide their conditions, Lannetti said.
The Dunkowskis said they lost their home and had been living in an encampment in the woods alongside the train station when they were found by police.
“Being homeless is not a crime, being poor is not a crime,” Lannetti said. “Treating your children like this is a crime.”
During his closing argument, Deputy District Attorney Lannetti showed the jury photos and video of the children when they were first taken to the hospital and how they look just a few months later. In the more recent photos and videos, the children appear smiling, playful, and, most importantly, healthy.
He said taking them away from their parents gives them “hope.”
The case was investigated by Middletown Township Police Detective Brian J. Hyams, the Middletown Township Police Department and Bucks County Children and Youth Services. This case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Matthew Lannetti.
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