LEXINGTON, N.C. -- A Lexington man is still trying to wrap his head around the place his 3-year-old daughter had been living.
"It's a struggle," explains Jacob Hiatt. "But now she's where she belongs and I don't have to worry no more."
His daughter was one of seven children, all under the age of 6, taken from a home on Irma Avenue over the weekend. Police say they were removed due to "unsuitable conditions," citing feces and other filth in the home. One child was even found with maggots in his diaper.
Police arrested the adults in the home, Jamie Hiatt and Michael McKnight, on several abuse charges. Jamie Hiatt is Jacob's wife, although he says they've been estranged for more than a year. Jamie got custody of their daughter when they split up. In that time, Jacob says he was never able to see his daughter. When he found out about the charges against his wife and McKnight, he filed for emergency custody and it was granted to him on Monday.
"I know what's best for my daughter," Jacob explains. "It's to be with me. And I have room. And before I even got her back I went and got her a bed, got her clothes donated. There's been a bunch of people reaching out to help and that's been a blessing."
Jacob is also a legal guardian to the two youngest children found in the house; twin boys - one of them the child that was found with maggots in his diaper. Both boys were taken to the hospital, but Jacob says they're doing better. He says he's not a biological parent, but he's working with DSS to see if they'll be able to go to another relative who is able to care for them.
"It's unreal how bad it got. I hate it for the boys that they got it as bad off as they did. And I'm sorry."
DSS is involved now, working with all seven children to try and find them better homes.
Both Jamie Hiatt and McKnight are in jail. They're due back in court later this month.