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New Orleans, LA (AP)-Two small starving brothers, who each dreamed of someday growing up to be heavyweight champion of the world, died Thursday after days of begging scraps of food from door to door and eating out of neighborhood trash cans.
Six-year-old William Baughman, jr. died with a plea for food on his lips. "Please, may I have a ham sandwich?" he murmured to hospital attendants.
Seven-year-old Lawrence, who died 12 hours later never regained consciousness after police removed him, frail and convulsed, from the shabby, one-room apartment where the Baughmans lived with their seven children.
The five girls, ranging in age from 1 to 9, were placed in foster homes.
Police jailed William Baughman, a 29-year-old unemployed longshoreman, and his 38-year-old wife, booking them with criminal neglect pending formal charges.
Laboratory tests and toxological examinations were scheduled after Delores, the oldest girl, told police the brothers had been eating out of an empty mustard jar found under the wooden tenement. Doctors believed it was contaminated.
Police went to the squalid room Thursday when neighbors complained the children were out begging for food at all hours of the day and night and had been drinking wine from discarded bottles.
One woman said she couldn't sleep because of the cries of the hungry children.
"They ate in the garbage cans...up and down the street," said Mrs Evelyn Scallan, a next-door neighbor.
Offers to bury the two children poured in after Baughman said he would have to await assistance from his father in Acadia, Tex., because a burial insurance policy had lapsed two months ago.
"I'm a sick man," he said. "I have a nerve sickness. I've been nervous since I was born."
He said he left his last job two weeks ago to seek admission to a veteran's administration hospital.
Since then, the family lived on $7 worth of food tickets provided by nuns at a nearby convent.
The Baughman's apartment is less than a block off Canal Street, New Orlean's main business thoroughfare.
Baughman, a guant, thin man who looks older than his 29 years, said his sons wanted to grow up to be fighters, "like Rocky Marciano."
His wife, a frail woman in a soiled pink dress, tearfully insisted she had done her best for the children.
The family had applied for assistance from the Louisiana welfare department, which administers a 110 million dollar a year welfare program, one of the largest and most liberal in the nation.
Miss Lillie H. Nairne, head of the New Orleans office, said the mother gave no indication that her husband was too ill to work or that their situation was an emergency.
Miss Nairne said a follow-up letter was mailed when Baughman failed to show up for a Monday interview . Police found the letter in the mailbox.