Irma Cruz, 23, said that when she left for work at 6:30 a.m., she thought the babysitter was on the way over to watch her 4- and 5-year-old sons.
But when she arrived at her home later that day, her boys were gone, taken by authorities, and she and her husband, Evelio Cruz Hernandez, 29, were arrested and each charged with two counts of felony child abuse and neglect.
Police had been called to investigate a complaint of a vehicle parked in the area with an expired inspection sticker and no county decal. After learning the car was registered to an address on the street, police knocked on the door, but no one answered.
An officer saw a small child standing in the window and, after speaking with neighbors, learned the children were home alone. They reached the children by entering an unlocked back door and then prying away wood that had been nailed to a basement door that led upstairs.
The boys were found in a bedroom, watching TV and sitting on a foam pad that was serving as a mattress. They were not injured or malnourished, although the house was in disrepair, with snacks and milk on the floor.
The parents had taken precautions before leaving the children, tying shut kitchen cabinets and turning off the hot water. But the front door was locked, another door leading to the garage was nailed shut and there was no way the children could have escaped the house in the event of an emergency.
Cruz Hernandez said the basement door was not nailed shut. It was broken, so he leaned some plywood against it to prevent the boys from getting through, and he has since replaced the door. He blocked the doors inside the house to keep the boys from getting into the garage, where he stores dangerous tools. He added that the Explorer did not belong to him and was registered to another resident of the house.
Cruz said she believes the babysitter didn't show up because she had called her that morning and told the sitter she saw immigration authorities at a neighbor's house. She said the sitter, who is in the country illegally, might have been scared to come.
Cruz said that a relative who rents the basement of the home was there when she left for work but that she neglected to tell him the boys were in the house. She said the bed they were found on has been replaced with a new mattress.
The neighbors knew the kids where home alone and didn't think to check or call anyone? Maybe they were used to it. Maybe they called about the car in hopes the police would find the kids??
What kind of parent leaves the house without someone right there to watch kids? They're such good parents that they went right out and got a new mattress and fixed the door... but not until they got caught.