Your story is based on a true incident.
Four-month-old Joseph Alexander died on October 31, 1972 in his house at 6738 South Kings Highway in Alexandria when he bled to death after being bitten by rats on his feet.
Joseph's parents, 25-year-old Evelyn and her 29-year-old husband James, lived in the house with their four children, as well as Evelyn's 38-year-old brother, James Locke, his wife and their five children. That's thirteen people, four adults and nine children, in a house health department inspector Marvin Reeves subsequently described as "dilapidated". Their rent was $30-$40 a week.
Evelyn took her two oldest children out trick-or-treating, leaving her brother to watch baby Joseph and her other infant, who was 15 months old. After she and the two older children, who were 2 1/2 and 5, finished trick-or-treating, she went to pick up her husband from his job at a Bethesda gas station, where he made $1.80 an hour working as a tow truck driver. Evelyn and James Alexander arrived home at about 1:00 a.m.
Evelyn first checked on the older baby, who was fine, but when she went upstairs to check on Joseph, he was already dead with a huge hole in his foot. The Alexanders took their baby first to the Fairfax County Police Department's Groveton substation, then to Alexandria Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 2:22 a.m. November 1, 1972.
The Health Department ordered the Alexander and Lock families to vacate the house, and ordered C. C. Grosso, who owned it, to call an exterminator to kill the rats. Instead, the condemned house was severely damaged in "a fire of suspicious origin" on the night of November 6, 1972.
The Alexander and Locke families were relocated to a hotel, then to houses in the Potomac Overlook Regional Park, where they were to be allowed to stay until January of 1973, which was long enough for public interest in the story to fade.
There was plenty of newspaper interest in the story, and I've cited the stories I used to write this article below.
- Shaffer, Ron. "4-Month-Old Infant Dies of Rat Bites." The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973): 2. Nov 03 1972. ProQuest. Web. 10 Jan. 2017.
- Shaffer, Ron. "Va. House is Vacated After Rats Killed Baby." The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973): 2. Nov 04 1972. ProQuest. Web. 10 Jan. 2017.
- "Rat-Infested House Burns." The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973): 1. Nov 07 1972. ProQuest. Web. 10 Jan. 2017.
- "Rat Victim Families Get Houses." The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973): 1. Nov 10 1972. ProQuest. Web. 10 Jan. 2017.