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Dog-hoarding case mom misses court date again

Crystal M. Zwart38 charged with two counts child neglect.

Crystal M. Zwarton, 38, charged with two counts of child neglect.

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Updated: June 4, 2013 6:24AM

ELGIN — When the Elgin mother found living in unsanitary conditions with nine dogs missed her second court hearing in a row on Thursday, a judge issued a warrant for her arrest.

Crystal Zwarton, 38, was charged with child endangerment after a Jan. 31 police raid found her living with her two children, age 5 and 7, in conditions allegedly so bad that one police officer vomited as soon as he entered the small house, at 614 Lavoie Ave.

Police said they found nine dogs in the east-side house and the basement was covered wall-to-wall with about a half-inch of dog waste.

Zwarton had failed to show up for a hearing on April 4 in Elgin Branch Court, but a friend did show up and told Judge Kathryn Karayannis that Zwarton was at a hospital at the side of one of her children, who was suffering from an asthma attack. Karayannis then rescheduled the hearing to Thursday.

But when Thursday’s Elgin court call ended, with Elgin Police Animal Control Officer James Rog waiting to testify, neither Zwarton nor any representative had showed up. So Judge Robert Villa signed a warrant for her arrest and set her bail at $10,000.

Both the April 4 hearing and an April 10 hearing on animal-cruelty charges lodged against two other people who lived in the house, Randy McDonald and Cheryl Thacker, were followed outside the courtroom by angry confrontations between McDonald and the home’s landlord, Robert Minis.

During the April 10 confrontation, McDonald drove his car within a few feet of Minis in the parking lot of the branch court along Randall Road, causing Minis to ask a Kane County sheriff’s deputy to charge McDonald with assault.

But as of Thursday, no assault charge had been lodged.

McDonald, Thacker and Zwarton claim that the unsanitary conditions all were caused by the fourth person living in the home, a man named Robert Shilling who they say they invited to stay in their basement for a week but stayed for months. Shilling owned seven of the nine dogs, they said.

In February, Shilling pleaded guilty to animal cruelty and was sentenced to 40 days in the Kane County jail.

Judge Karayannis also ordered that Shilling’s seven dogs be either put up for adoption or put to death.

McDonald and Thacker are due back in court on May 29.

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