Three kids were found living alone in an Indiana mobile home without water or a working furnace, authorities said.
The children, a 16-year-old boy and his 11- and 10-year-old siblings, were discovered after the eldest asked school officials for help fixing a broken water pipe, according to the Times of Northwest Indiana. The paper reports that the home was being heated with three space heaters and sometimes the oven. Their mother, Thanh Nguyen, visits the home briefly to drop off food but could not be reached by phone, the paper reports, citing a police report.
"Mom hasn't been home for a very long time," the 10-year-old girl said, according the paper. "She's gone for months at a time."
Nguyen, 46, was found at Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo, Michigan. She has been charged with neglect of a dependent and drug possession. She reportedly had a prescription drug in her possession that she said was given to her by a friend for back pain, police said.
“I come home after they sleep and leave before they get up,” she reportedly told police.
She also reportedly said that she’d called a plumber to fix the pipe that broke Friday. The home is located in the 1100 block of Camelot Manor in Portage.
The newspaper reports that Nguyen worked at a nail salon where it was not uncommon for her to not show up for her shift. A relative, who also works at the nail salon, sometimes helps the children.
The oldest child told police his father was “away on vacation in California, and Nguyen has forbidden the children from contacting him, the paper reported.
Police said the home was “relatively clean.”
"I love my kids," Nguyen reportedly told police. "They can't go to foster care."
A court hearing was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.