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11-year-old boy who was found dying lived in home around urine in bottles, feces in bathtub

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Before memorial balloons and candles were placed on the front steps of 604 East Division Street, the house was surrounded by broken window glass and garbage.

But that outside mess pales into comparison to what Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh calls “deplorable” conditions inside the home.

Documents obtain by NewsChannel 9 detail the code violations issued to Jeremy Degonzague, the father of 11-year-old Ashton Degonzague who was found not breathing in the home before he died at the hospital.

The violations include “trash, debris, furniture and other items were strewn throughout all of the rooms,” making it “hard to walk through the interior.”

An inspector reported “occupants were using the bathroom sink and bathtub as a toilet and both were backed up with feces and urine.”

“Urine was also found in multiple old drink bottles in what appeared to be a child’s bedroom,” the documents state.

“It was awful,” said Mayor Ben Walsh of where the boy lived. “Conditions no one should live in, let alone an 11-year-old boy.”

Despite the disgusting status of the home, the rental property was legally up to code.

Mayor Walsh explained rental properties need required inspections every three years. Previous code violations had been corrected and the house at 604 East Division Street was deemed in compliance when the last required inspection happened in 2021.

“A lot went wrong,” said Mayor Walsh about the time between the last inspection and the boy’s death.

Mayor Walsh said: “I think if Codes was in there a week before, two weeks before, even two months before, we would have seen those conditions. We don’t have the ability to inspect properties whenever we want.”

The boy’s family members who spoke with NewsChannel 9 say the house’s condition was among their complaints to Onondaga County’s Child Protective Services, which took no apparent action to remove the boy from the home.

A spokesperson for Syracuse Police confirm the department was called to the address more than 50 times in the last year.

Mayor Walsh explained: “In many cases, there is that intergovernmental communication. There is communication between SPD and CPS, codes and CPS, so that does occur. For whatever reason, in this particular case, it does not appear that it did occur, at least, as of late. So that’s something that we need to look at.”

Onondaga County has suspended two CPS workers as a direct result of the death of the boy. The county hasn’t detailed what the employees did wrong or any improvements to the overall system.

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