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Only on 12: Christine Long says she has "new evidence" after neglect conviction

News 12 First at Five, 6 o'clock, and 11 o'clock, September 8, 2009

WAYNESBORO, Ga.---New details today in the child cruelty case involving Christine and Jeremy Long of Burke County. Christine Long says the state is now trying to remove nine minor children from her care.

The Long case put Burke County on the map for all the wrong reasons...a family living in squalor, squatting in a house for decades. Some experts called it one of the worst cases of child neglect they'd ever seen.

Both parents were convicted of neglecting their eleven children. Now, Christine Long says she has new evidence, and she's showing it exclusively to News 12's Lynnsey Gardner.

Christine says she found some of the video and pictures after her sentencing. She says she has had others since her family's living conditions were discovered, but she didn't share them in court because she didn't think she would need them. Now she's changed her mind, hoping it will help her in the fight to keep her kids.

But, as a convicted felon, she's got tough question to answer.

The photos and videos provide an inside exclusive look at what life may have been like inside the Long house. They show children giggling and playing with their pets. It's hard to imagine those children were found living in deplorable conditions, with just two jars of jelly in the house for food, no electricity, no running water, no beds, and no indoor plumbing.

"It was not always that horrible. It was not always like that," Christine said.

Christine points to videos taken in 2006, two years before the family was discovered, as proof. The kids are seen in the videos drinking soda. They're clothed and watching TV.

In another shot, we see two other children eating what looks to be cereal.

Some pictures taken the same year show the kids wearing shoes, and others show them celebrating Halloween and Christmas.

"I think it would have helped a great deal to show I did care for my children, they were happy in these pictures," Christine said.

Almost every 19 months since their parents married, another child was born.
You can see the family progress into more and more poverty with every additional mouth to feed.

"Every time your mom got pregnant, what did you think?" we asked daughter Miranda Long.

"I was sad because there was another person brought into our world," Miranda said. "That they were born into a life like that, to be hungry.

She says it got worse as the years went on.

"I had two outfits," she said. "I didn't like being dirty, not being clean."

News 12: "What's the hardest part of this for you?"
Miranda: "Not having my family with me. ... I feel very alone."

Miranda's the only support her mother's claims of abuse at the hands of Jeremy Long.

News 12: "Did your dad abuse your mom?"
Miranda: "Yes."
News 12: "Have you been coached to say that?"
Miranda, shaking her head no: "I saw it."

But she's alone on that too.

News 12: "Why is that none of your other minor children support your story of abuse?"
Christine: "They have told their therapist, but she was not called into court."

That's a decision the district attorney's office says was made by Christine's defense team.

News 12: "In the court of public opinion, though, a lot of people think you are lying about the abuse."
Christine: "They do, but they haven't talked to the one person that has spent so much time with me and my children, which is our therapist."
News 12: "You started writing Jeremy letters in jail in October. The last letter is December 11th. And you were indicted seven days later, and then the letters stopped. Don't you think that's suspicious?"
Christine: "I do think that's suspicious."
News 12: "You profess on every page your undying love for him."
Christine: "I was being told if he was in the house, I would have a better chance of getting my kids back. I was told he was about to come home."
News 12: "A lot of people are looking at this going, 'She's writing him in jail, she gets charged, letters stop and then three months later, she's claiming all these abuse allegations?'"
Christine: "Actually I got my strength up Christmas Eve. He called and I told him I'm filing for divorce."
News 12: "Because you know people are looking at the timeline and saying, okay. She filed for divorce and claimed all these abuse allegations to get out of the charges."
Christine: "Absolutely not."
News 12: "To avoid jail."
Christine: "Absolutely not."
News 12: "To get her kids back."
Christine: "No ma'am."

The picture painted in court exactly one year later was even worse: Ten children who didn't know how to use the bathroom or bathe properly. Children who were illiterate. Children whose only emotions were fear of society and hatred for others.

The state argued the children learned those lessons from their parents. They brought felony neglect charges. Christine and Jeremy pled guilty.

News 12: "What does the term convicted felon mean to you?"
Christine: "I don't like it. ... It bothers me about what my children must think to have to say that about their mother. ... It seems so unfair."

Others argue what's unfair to her children is Christine's two-year jail sentence, to be served two weekends a month. Their father Jeremy is serving three years.

News 12: "A lot of people look at your sentence, though, and say it's a joke. ... The court of public opinion says justice was not served in this case for your children."
Christine: "I understand that, because a lot of the truth is not out. A lot of what was told was not...was lies. They were kept clean. My children did not have to be bleached for days. The statement that one of my children smelled between animal and death was not because he was not clean. He got sick in the car on the way to Burke Medical and had vomited on his clothes."

Christine says her family fell on hard times in the year before they were found.

In court, an expert argued when the family was found, they didn't even have supplies to color with, but Christine says they did. As proof, she pointed to pictures of decorations on the wall from 2006 and homemade cards in a video she says is even more recent.

Many of the pictures Christine showed News 12 display a cleaner home, even laundry hanging outside to dry.

Christine says their level of poverty grew as the family grew, and she blames her estranged husband, Jeremy Long.

News 12: "I know that at times you said your children were well-fed, and it wasn't starvation like the picture painted in court. Yet, in the divorce filing, you say that he would only provide ramen noodles."
Christine: "In the year leading up to this is when it got worse, and sometimes that's all we had for days was ramen noodles."

Christine says there were times when Jeremy was in a good mood and would provide for them and get them plenty to eat, but that was not always.
she says Jeremy abused her, trapped her in the home with the children as a prisoner.

But the video Christine provided also shows Christine reading the newspaper as her kids play nearby.

A medical expert testified that both parents were manipulative to the children and both were at fault.

News 12: "Were you a manipulator?"
Christine: "To my children? No ma'am. Everything they went through, I went through with them."

That same expert found "this extreme neglect has been occurring for a very extended period and is not reflective of the family hitting a low point."

The final finding was that the children experienced prolonged neglect--medical, physical, educational and emotional.

"They could have had more education, and thank goodness they didn't need medical attention," Christine said. "They were healthy. But I think she was a little overboard in her description of how the children were."

News 12: "One child said if they were ever injured, they would sit on the couch until the pain went away."
Christine: "That is true, because they weren't allowed medical attention. ... It is only by the Grace of God that my children were not only born healthy but had no serious health conditions during that time."

But again, medical experts tell a different story. Other than at their birth, the children almost never saw a doctor. Once found, one child had earwax so impacted it had to be surgically removed. Another child's bowels were so backed up he had to be admitted to the hospital. One bill alone shows a cost of more than $10,000 in dental work on just two children's baby teeth.

Testimony showed educational neglect was also abundant.

News 12: "Your children didn't know the days of the week, didn't know their ABC's."
Christine: "They knew their ABC's, they knew how to write their names."

Another example, involving Christine's now 14-year-old son:

News 12: "The oldest boy being on a Pre-K level, hearing that, knowing that's how they've tested. ... And knowing that you and Jeremy contributed to that or caused that wholly?"
Christine: "I feel ashamed for that. I know that he's embarrassed and I know that's my fault. I'm sorry that happened."
News 12: "You're no dummy. I've read the letters you've written.. ...You are well-written, you are well-spoken. Why didn't you work harder to educate your children?"
Christine: "I did with my first two, and then with the more I had it just got more difficult."

Christine showed News 12 the house where she says she's ready for all her children to make a new home.

"This is where I hope to put my four other girls," she said.

But one daughter in foster care, now 18, has chosen to stay put over returning to Christine.

"At first she was waiting to see if I was going to prison and said she would be homeless," Christine said.

News 12: "You understand that the decision for a child not to come back to you when they could hurts your case?"
Christine: "It did, but because the children were so close, I can understand why she would want to be with them while she can."
News 12: "In your heart of hearts do you think you are guilty of the felony charges you pled guilty to?"
Christine: "I don't."
News 12: "Then why did you plea?"
Christine: "I didn't want to put my children on the stand. ... I thought by pleading guilty I could finally put and end to it and move on and get my children back."

Experts argued her children suffered severe and prolonged neglect, including medical, educational, and physical.

Christine: "I didn't spank the children with a belt, their father did."
News 12: "One child later said you did spank them with a belt and you laughed about it."
Christine: "I don't remember that."

Emotional neglect was also showcased in court. The state argued that the children say their mother did not tell them she loved them or hug them.

Christine: "I did hug them, just not all the time."
News 12: "It's even in the DFACS report, when your kids were being taken away by foster parents, complete strangers to you in the midst of all that chaos, you didn't hug one child."
Christine: "That was not true. I was standing in the hallway begging them not to take my kids. ... I wasn't given a chance to tell them goodbye. ... They said it would be easier for the children to leave if I wasn't there. If I told them goodbye, it might upset them more."

After Christine was indicted, she changed her tune on her husband Jeremy, filed for divorce, and claimed abuse, blaming him for the family's condition when they were found. A stark difference from the love letters she wrote him while he was in jail months before her arrest.

Christine: "I have extreme anger against him. What he's done to my children's life. ... I don't know how he looked at those kids and thought where we were was OK."
News 12: "Did you think it was OK?"
Christine: "I didn't think it was OK. It was horrible living conditions."
News 12: "Do you take any accountability for where you guys were at when you were found?"
Christine: "I accept my blame."

Oldest daughter Miranda, who also wrote letter after letter filled with love and Bible verses to her jailed father, now supports her mother's story.

News 12: "Do you think your dad's a good dad?"
Miranda: "No."
News 12: "A good person?"
Miranda: "No."
News 12: "A good husband?"
Miranda: "No."
News 12: "Why do you think none of your other siblings are corroborating that?"
Miranda: "They are. If I ask them, they tell me they saw it."

Miranda, the firstborn, has gone from being her mother's oldest of 11 to her only child at home.

"She's not what they make her out to be," Miranda said. "She's a good momma. She does love us, she does care about us."

News 12: "Have you apologized to your children for what you put them through?"
Christine: "Over and over and over. I'm sorry for what they went through and I apologize for what they are going through now."

Now, the children have spent more than a year in foster care, some bouncing from house to house, others in homes that want to possibly adopt them.

Christine: "I've been told if I sign away parental rights to my six youngest, I'll get my four oldest. I can't do that. I can't put my name on a piece of paper and give them away. ... They will have to take my children from me. ... I didn't fight for the last year to prove myself to give them away with a stroke of a pen."

Christine says she's completed therapy, found a home and gotten a job. She also says she's completed three DFACS case plans in the last year.

Christine: "I think I deserve my chance."
News 12: "A lot of people say you had your chance, every single day for 18 years times 11."
Christine: "I didn't have my chance before. I think I deserve my chance to prove what I can do for my children."

The court will decide if she'll get that chance.

News 12 took what Christine is calling new evidence to the district attorney's office. After looking at the pictures and all the video, here is their statement:

"We don't know how long she has had it. She never provided it to us. I think when you look at all the pictures and the video, it confirms the conditions of the house we thought were there. It doesn't change the conditions of the house and the children when they were found. There was evidence of long term physical, educational, medical, and emotional neglect. Because of the evidence in the case, the defendants were charged with a number of counts of cruelty to children in the second degree, based on the neglect that was found. The defendants acknowledged that they did neglect their children as alleged by entering guilty pleas and being sentenced for a number of the offenses charged."

There's no word on when Christine's DFACS hearing will be rescheduled, or what help, if any, the new evidence she is showing will give her case.

Christine says Miranda completed her GED exam this morning and has plans to enroll in a technical college to get her cosmetology degree.

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Ms. Anthony Location: Waynesboro on Nov 2, 2009 at 07:08 AM
    She is just as much at fault for the way they were living, its not like the man had them lock away hell she had a cell phone, she could have call for help a million times but chose not to, I think she is a bold face liar and trying to put it all on the man to save herself, I thank God the children are away from them both, but they need extensive help and treatment but the kids should not be returned to them at all cause they don't have the sense to ask for help, I don't care if I had to call channel 12 news and tell the people we are poor and starving and ask for help, sometimes pride can mess u up, there was no need to be without food and although my heart goes out to the family I don't feel the parents reached out for help. how can u be doing that bad but have a cell phone thats crazy.
  • by Anonymous Location: Thompson on Sep 15, 2009 at 10:38 PM
    I say to everyone, Good Luck with your future with this case. Please pray and let God handle. What ever is in Ms. Longs future she and the children need our prayers. I will pray for the people who love her and the people who hate her. This is so sad to me. I have my thoughts as well as others. I say fight for what you are believing in, but spend time with God on your knees asking for HIS WILL, NOT OUR WILL, will be done, Either way the sad case ends, let God have final decision and everyone except decision.I don't know any of you except news media and comments. My comments were posted earlier. My comment this time, It is time to let go on both sides, Stay in prayer with God, and let The Lord Above decide. Stay active in this case, it is time to stop the he said, she said, talk and really try to help this family. EVERYONE including mother and daddy. However it turns out, please do not keep the family apart from their children. The children still need to see each other. God Bless
  • by Anonymous Location: waynesboro on Sep 15, 2009 at 07:03 PM
    There are answers to these questions. It would be nice for everything to come forth for people to see. Her parents live out of town. They have been here, but could not come back for interview. Family is helping her with house at present time. Attorney was not needed for this interview. Interview was a personal interview to let people know she is going to fight for her children. She loves her children. What is so hard for me is why she can't have the chance to prove herself with the children. People forget she was a victim also. Was not allowed to contact her parents for 20yrs. until she was found. She was not allowed to go to gro. stores and etc. She was left year after year with children and having more close together. Think about how much time you spend with 1 child, can you imagine:staying with 11 children day and night, 24 hrs. per day.No support from a husband who should be bringing food to house? Horrible conditions and scared to leave. I hope MS.Gardnerwill keep investing
  • by Wondering Whats Going ON Location: Georgia on Sep 14, 2009 at 06:33 PM
    Hello Ms. Gardner, I guess you have read these comments and as I have along with others. First thank you for your story. Now here is my question Out of all thesecomments who's telling the truth? Seems Like alot of repeats and no real hard facts. Youcan't take pictures from the kids at the squatter house nad make it look like Home make over and paint a pretty picture. We aren't dumb, there is alot of facts thta haven't been anwsered. Also when Ms. Long came forward to speak with you why didn't she have her attorney present or the church people around her. Did you ever get with the grandparents to here there side. Also who owns the house they were found at. Do they owe him rent? Who is this person did he know what was going ? Why hasn't he come forward with crimnal charges for tresspassing? I know eveerybody should be given a second chance. Just be honest and tell the truth about the problem. God Bless one and all
  • by Renee Location: Waynesboro on Sep 14, 2009 at 07:04 AM
    I would to say thank you to all have wrote in support of Christy and her children. Please continue to keep them in your prayers. They still have a long ways to go.
  • by Renee Location: Waynesboro on Sep 14, 2009 at 07:02 AM
    Waynesboro resident-It is about her and her children. You don't get it now and probably never will that you don't just pick up and get out of an abusive relationship. Most times it takes something just like this to happen to get out. Some people have family and friends to help them get out but Christy didn't have that. What bothers me is that everybody is so mad she didn't get out and get help. Well now she is out and you don't want her to get help. You just want to crucify her. The classes she took were not to keep her out of jail but were suppose to help her get her children back. If you were in court I guess you saw how much Miranda and her mother love each other and I know she loves her other children just that much. Miranda was devastated when her mother was sentenced. She never told her children she would set them on fire. This is what I am talking about. These are the untruths that I am talking about. It needs to stop and let this family move on.
  • by Renee Location: Waynesboro on Sep 13, 2009 at 11:04 PM
    This case has gotten way out of hand because of all the untruths that have been told and it needs to end so they can put this behind them and move forward together as a family with their mother and sister. I know what you are thinking the children will never be able to forget this part of their life. Well, neither will Christy but they will survive and they will be stronger people in the end. That I know for a fact. Concerned Citizen-I to am a concerned citizen of this town. I am very concerned what a group of people are trying to do to this mother and her children. At first I was really bothered by what I read but instead of crucifying her (not that you did) I took the time to listen and try to find out everything I could about this case. I'm sure I still don't know everything but neither do any of these other people. I will continue to support Christy until given a reason not to and I will continue to be a voice for Christy and Miranda. Also, I agree the children need to be heard.
  • by Renee Location: Waynesboro on Sep 13, 2009 at 10:36 PM
    continue-I have a great life now and it is because I was given a 2nd chance to get it right. She has shown in so many ways that she is changing. Nobody said it would be easy for her and the children but God didn't promise us easy but I have faith in God and in her that she can make things right for her and the children. Had I died when I first got out of my relationship I would have left a horrible legacy for my son but after fighting back and busting my rump I can proudly leave this earth and say I was a mother who never stopped fighting to make a better life for me and my son. I can confidently say that Christy will do the same for her and her family. People also are forgetting that these children are not all in the same home. So not only do they not have their mom and oldest sis. but they don't have each other either. Some are in the same home but not all of them. They all need to be together w/mom. This case has gotten way out of hand because of all the untruths that have been sd.
  • by Renee Location: Waynesboro on Sep 13, 2009 at 10:13 PM
    Burke resident-I do support the children as well as Ms. Long. I had a child while in my abusive relationship and while at first he did have a difficult time things did get better. If nothing else he knew I would be there for him. As for as the children loving their foster parents I have never said they didn't I don't think. I am sure they have a very strong bond with these people but they are not these children's family. Christine is no longer in an abusive situation and they deserve to be a family without that. These children won't suffer unless the community chooses to make them suffer. They deserve to be able to heal as a family and they will have a great life. I was told I would never amount to anything and I would always be considered white trash in this town. I now have a wonderful husband, a beautiful little girl, a wonderful son that has grown into a fine young man in spite of being raised in an abusive home. continue
  • by Waynesboro Resident Location: Waynesboro, GA on Sep 13, 2009 at 06:45 PM
    ..continued...she would have walked across the street and asked for help. She would not have told the kids to hide because if people saw them they would set them on fire. These are some of the things the children told that happened. If she can get away from her "abuser" why can't they?
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