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Being heroes was team effort

by David Cole
| December 8, 2010 8:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - Anthony Brown and Brandy Conklin say it was their own 2-year-old son, Raymond, that provided the spark of inspiration to spring them into action.

The sight of a stranger's two little children naked, dirty, lying face down with no bed, blankets and no way out of their filthy fecal-smeared room was extremely disturbing to Brown, 26, of Coeur d'Alene.

He could see sofa cushions positioned against the door to their bedroom, muffling any taps on it for help.

He saw them through a wide open window in an apartment as he walked by, having just paid a visit to his brother at another apartment, also on the third floor of the complex at 1201 N. Lincoln Way.

"It looked like they were just snuggled up to trash," Brown said. "It was like they were prisoners in that room. I couldn't get over the sight."

It turns out the two children were twin girls, who turn 2 years old in a week. Their mother, 26-year-old Elisabeth C. Crossley, was arrested this past weekend on two counts of felony injury to a child.

Brown knocked on the door of the apartment and told Crossley and her mother, Ruth K. Cassidy, that the children looked like they needed some attention. They didn't want to hear it, he said, and closed the door on him.

While the door was open, he saw some of the seven cats and two dogs that live in the apartment scurrying about.

"Who lets their dogs in the living room, but not their kids?" he said. "The kids weren't even treated as well as the dogs."

So upset by what he witnessed after leaving his brother's place and then confronting Crossley and Cassidy, he went to Conklin and confided to her. Or he tried to, but couldn't quite explain it all, and decided she had better see it for herself - then maybe they'd call the police.

Conklin, 21, also of Coeur d'Alene, said, "He looked really stressed."

They roused their son, despite it being in the middle of the night, and got ready to drive back over to the apartment complex. Raymond was a little grumpy at that hour.

They asked him, "'You want to go save two little kids?'"

The answer was yes, and the three were on the way back to the scene.

Once there, Conklin hurried up the stairs and looked in the girls' bedroom window, surprised that nobody had shut the blinds to prevent people from looking in after Brown had just confronted them. They were wide open.

"I said 'oh my gosh, we're going to do something about it,'" Conklin said. "We feel lucky that they didn't close the blinds."

They didn't want to just offer some blankets, when they wouldn't know if the girls would get them. They called police, who arrived and saw girls' living conditions.

For Conklin, the girls being on the floor, face down, naked, with no blankets or bedding in a filthy room was too much to take.

"It's just really hard to get that sight out of your head," she said. "We just bawled our eyes out."

Being parents gave them extra motivation to try and help, they said.

Coeur d'Alene police are glad Brown and Conklin reported what they witnessed, and have called to thank them and tell them they likely saved the girls' lives. Police told them the girls are "living with a nice lady, with other kids around," said Brown, who works mornings at the Arby's restaurant on West Appleway Avenue.

It was a tough decision, knowing the kids would likely be taken away from their mother and grandmother. They were taken into custody by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare after their mother was arrested.

Conklin said, "This is so bad, but we helped. It made us feel better. Imagine what their Christmas would have been like. I wonder if they even know who Santa is?"

Brown added, "I'm just wondering how many people walked by that room who did nothing?"

For now, they said, they'll just keep spoiling Raymond. It makes them feel better.

"I couldn't ever just picture him on the floor," Conklin said.

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