A California homeless woman was arrested late Saturday night suspicion of child abandonment and neglect after admitting that she'd left her two young children to sleep in the bushes for five nights, while she slept in nearby hotel rooms with friends.
27-year-old Chardenea VanRooyen admitted to leaving her 3-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son to sleep in the bushes with their father, who she said left when she came to meet them for dinner. Law enforcement was called in after a report of a baby sleeping in a stroller in the bushes at around 11:15 P.M.
According to Modesto police spokeswoman Heather Graves, officers found the tots near a parking lot shared by a Wendy's and a Denny's. They found VanRooyen sleeping nearby in the bushes. The allegedly neglectful mother told police the children had been sleeping there for about five days while she stayed in other people's rooms. She claims they were with their father, but police have been unable to locate the man.
"She said she can’t stay there because she can’t see her children staying in the bushes," said Graves. "When officers asked why she doesn’t take the children with her to the hotel, she just says again she doesn’t want to see her kids sleeping in the bushes."
Despite the prevalence of homeless shelters in the area, the mom refused to take them to one. There were a few blankets in the area, but the children were reported as dirty, hungry, and under-dressed.
When an officer brought them something to eat from Wendy's, they appeared to be very happy and excited to eat something. They were taken into the care of Child Protective Services, and VanRooyen was arrested and booked. She was released on $50,000 bond Monday.
Those poor kiddos! Something is definitely not right here, and from what's been reported, it may be the mom's state of mind. Who would rather their children sleep in the bushes next to a drive-thru than in a shelter? And her answers to the authorities seemed less than coherent. And where the heck is the dad who was supposedly caring for them for five days? It just doesn't add up.
Hopefully this mom can get the help she obviously needs so she can care for her children, but they are the first priority. No matter what happens, I hope they find a place to call home, and never find themselves sleeping on the streets again.
What do you think was going through this mom's mind?
Image via Modesto Police Department