Central Texas couple charged after officer finds lice-infested children

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MOODY, Texas (KWTX) A Central Texas man and his wife were both jailed Thursday, facing multiple charges after a Moody officer who responded to a report of an overdose found four girls, some with severe lice infestations, in a home so filled with lice police have not yet entered it.

Ryan Niswonger and Daniela Niswonger. (Jail photos)

"The reason why we're delaying investigating inside the home is because of the lice; we don't want to expose any of our officers to those conditions,” Moody police Chief Roger Kennedy said Thursday.

Ryan Niswonger, 37, and his wife Daniela Niswonger, 40, were both in the McLennan County Jail Thursday.

According to online jail records Friday, Ryan Niswonger is charged with four counts of injury to a child, four counts of abandoning or endangering a child and five counts of assault causing bodily injury/family violence.

His bonds total $380,000 according to online records.

Daniela Niswonger is charged with four counts of injury to a child, three counts of assault causing bodily injury/family violence and four counts of abandoning or endangering a child, according to online jail records.

She’s also held on three unrelated charges, online records show.

Her bonds total $340,000.
Three of the girls, ages 4, 6 and 8, are in the custody of Texas Child Protective Services.

The fourth, a 14-year-old, is staying with a distant relative, Kennedy said.

They were removed from the home after a Moody officer responded at around 4:45 p.m. Saturday to the family’s home at 307 4th St. to a report that Daniela Niswonger had overdosed, according to an arrest warrant affidavit released Thursday.

She was taken to Scott & White Medical Center in Temple.

“I was getting ready to leave when one of the kids wanted to talk to me about something,” the officer wrote in the affidavit.

Ryan Niswonger, however, refused to let the girl talk to the officer alone, the affidavit says.

The girl later walked over to the officer and told him she didn’t feel safe in the household, the affidavit says.

“She feared for the safety of the juveniles while staying in the house,” the affidavit says.

The officer took two of the girls with him to the police department where they were later interviewed by a CPS worker.

After the interview, the worker said CPS would take custody of the girls “due to the unsafe and unhealthy living conditions,” the affidavit says.

“Three of the juveniles had to have their hair shaved due to the severity of the lice and be treated before going anywhere,” the affidavit says, and the fourth girl's hair was partially shaved “to get rid of the lice.”

"It was itching, sores, they were just miserable,” Kennedy said Thursday.

“It kind of tears at your heart, because the simple fact is that the kids don't know, it's not their fault," he said.

All four girls were given new clothes and underwear, and the clothes they were wearing were thrown away, the affidavit says.

“One juvenile, her underwear was almost brown due to not being clean in a long time.”

The four girls were taken to Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center in Waco.

Two were found to have infections from the lice, the affidavit says.

(Moody Police Dept. photo)
(Moody Police Dept. photo)
(Moody Police Dept. photo)
(Moody Police Dept. photo)