Details emerge in shocking child neglect case; Judge rules children to stay in CPS custody

Published: Sep. 20, 2016 at 6:59 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 20, 2016 at 11:36 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn
Claire Rembis (Source: KCBD Video)
Claire Rembis (Source: KCBD Video)

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - A West Texas family named in a case of child neglect here in Lubbock has a long history with Child Protective Services, going back to 2001 and tracking across three states. A judge just ruled the children will remain in the care of the state.

William and Claire Rembis have previously been charged with physical and medical neglect of their 11 children. At a recent court hearing, a CPS investigator said they believed the family had been moving to different states to avoid investigations.

Ten of their 11 children are now in foster care. The parents have been ordered to pay $100 per month in child support. The court will follow up with a status hearing on Oct. 5.

The judge also issued an emergency removal order for the children, but the parents have the option to correct the behavior and living conditions at their home. The judge is not terminating their parental rights at this time and they are not currently facing criminal charges here in Lubbock.

"Feel like it's a witch hunt, because we have a large family, we're unconventional, by their standards," William Rembis said.

The parents continue to deny all allegations, but the CPS reports document a shocking history of neglect: children left in appalling unsanitary conditions, screaming and "shrieks of terror" at all hours of the night, children found rooting through trash to find food.

Claire Rembis firmly denies this.

"They've never eaten out of dumpsters, they don't play in dumpsters. Our kids are smart and they can go grab a banana, if they're hungry. They're not going to go into a dumpster," she said.

The family says they will be hiring a private attorney from here on out.

"They're not abused or neglected, so there's no reason to not return them," Claire Rembis said.

Their 17-year-old is currently living in Colorado, where the family planned to move. They only get one, one-hour supervised visit each week with all 10 kids.

Here are some details found in the reports, starting with the most recent.

Toddler found walking near traffic

Lubbock police were called to the Rembis residence to do a welfare check after someone reported seeing a toddler walking unsupervised by a roadway. A passerby found the child one full house away from her home near traffic traveling 30 miles per hour.

When an officer arrived on the scene, he said the child had already been returned to her home by the passerby who said there were no adults outside.

The passerby told the officer when she knocked on the door of the home, children answered and said their mother was asleep and was always asleep.

The officer said he was approached by a neighbor who said the children are always making loud noises and yelling all through the night.

The officer said when he spoke to the child's mother, Claire Rembis, she did not give him her real name or correct date of birth. Only after asking for her license was he able to get the correct information.

The officer called Child Protective Services Investigators to the home.

According to court documents, when they arrived, Rembis would not allow them inside the home to check on her children or see the home environment. She told the workers she would need to speak to her husband, William Rembis Sr., before allowing them inside.

Rembis told the CPS workers she had been involved with CPS before and knew her rights. When her husband arrived, he too denied them access to the home.

The CPS investigator reportedly gave them her card, but by the time she made it back to the office, William Rembis was already there requesting to speak with her.

According to court documents, he told the investigator he "could not afford another attorney to deal with the department and wanted to know what he needed to do so the worker would get out of his life."

The investigator explained the full process of the investigation.

William agreed to let the investigator come back to the home and speak with his children and take a look inside.

The CPS investigator said the she was not allowed to take any photos inside the home or of the children and that William took a video recording of her the entire time she was inside the home.

No beds for the children

The investigator reported the home had a strong foul odor and had no necessary furniture for the children. She said none of the children had beds.

She also reported there not being enough food in the home to feed 11 children and two adults.

Claire told the investigator they just moved in and all of their belongings were still in Plano.

Trashed room at Overton Hotel

The following month, on June 2, the CPS investigator received a police report regarding criminal mischief against William dating back to April.

The report said William was hired to work at the Overton Hotel and was provided with a room to stay in until he could find his own housing. However, he had been suspended from his job.

According to the report, he had been sharing that hotel room with 10 other people including the children.

The report stated damage had been done to the room.

Screaming heard 'possibly every night for a month'

CPS began obtaining information regarding the family's history and launched a full investigation.

During this investigation, CPS received a report that screaming could be heard from the home possibly every night for a month. The report stated the screams sounded like they were coming from a child being hurt.

On July 6 around 1 a.m. the landlord was contacted after someone reported loud screaming being drowned out by loud music.

Children found eating food out of the trash

The report also stated that neighbors took the trash out to the alley and later found Rembis children eating food from the garbage.

They reportedly ran back inside the home after the neighbors saw them eating out of the trash.

During the investigation, CPS workers received another call from a neighbor telling them they witnessed the children digging through the trash again.

When the CPS workers arrived, they found trash scattered in the alley as if someone had been digging through it, but didn't see any children.

While there, the CPS workers reported hearing screams coming from the home.

However, several times when the workers knocked on the door, no one answered.

August 13, children reported missing

On August 10, around 8:15 p.m. a CPS investigator received another call from a Lubbock Police officer advising her they were at the Rembis home again after receiving a call about three of the children digging through the dumpster for food.

The following day, the CPS investigator went to the Rembis home to give them a court order and notice of removal of their children.

The parents were not home and could not be reached, so on August 13, the investigator made an official report to the Lubbock Police Department that the Rembis children were missing. The Rembis children were added to the National Missing and Exploited Children list.

According to CPS records, this is not the first investigation involving the Rembis family.

Accused of medical, physical neglect in 2015

In a 2015 investigation, CPS received a referral alleging neglectful supervision of the children.

According to this case, William left children unattended when he took his wife to the hospital and remained there for the majority of the weekend.

There were also concerns of mental instability and drug abuse by one of his sons.

Another one of their children was diagnosed with significant failure to thrive and malnutrition while another was diagnosed with scabies.

The parents are accused of medical neglect and physical neglect.

According to this case, investigators found Mr. and Mrs. Rembis responsible for failing to meet the children's basic needs, and to provide the children with essential elements for each child's physical, intellectual or emotional capabilities.

Judge orders children returned in 2015

That year, CPS was granted approval from a judge to place the children in protective custody, however another judge ordered the children to be returned just days later.

The court ordered the parents to participate in Family Based Safety Services.

According to this case, the family moved to another county and did not comply with completing those services.

The case was closed.

Another case alleged neglectful supervision after children were found wandering outside by themselves.

Some of the children also reported being depressed and living in disarray.

Mother delivers in birthing pool, placenta left in pool for months

Their son, 16 years old at the time, told investigators there is a birthing pool in the home that his mother delivers in. He said his mother leaves her placenta in the pool for months.

When law enforcement and Child Protective Services entered the home, they reported finding it littered with trash and old food.

They said there were hazards like scissors and steak knifes on the floor. They also reported refrigerators being locked, so they could not check the food supply. They noted there not being enough food in the pantry to sustain 10 children.

In the master bedroom, there was a large, uncovered birthing tub that was filled with water. The water had a substance floating on the top.

Officers and investigators said this tub was accessible to any child in the home and was a definite drowning risk.

22-month-old left in closet

Investigators also reported neglectful supervision after learning Claire and her husband went to the hospital and failed to mention to paramedics they had a sleeping 22-month-old in the closet at home.

Claire admitted to leaving the child in the closet and said they had planned to call a neighbor to come over and watch her.

In an interview with CPS, one child told an investigator her father hit her. However, investigators did not see any marks or bruises on her that would indicate physical abuse.

An order to participate was obtained and the family was referred to Family Based Safety Services.

Earlier reports from Michigan

The family also has history with CPS in Michigan.

In 2012, a report was received alleging the Rembis children were often seen roaming outside the neighborhood with no appropriate supervision and were seen eating out of the garbage.

The children's clothes were dirty and none of the children could express a recollection of consistent bathing or showering.

The Rembis home was described to be in "deplorable" conditions.

Copyright 2016 KCBD. All rights reserved.