A Philadelphia mother is facing charges after locking her four children in the basement for 12 hours as a form of punishment.
Police were called to a Kensington area residence on April 26 and found four children between the ages 9 and 13 locked in a basement, NBC 10 reported.
“When they came out of the house they all ran right into the police van,” neighbor Victoria Sipes told NBC 10. “It seemed like they were covering their faces and it seemed like they were a little embarrassed and scared.”
Officials said one of the children had a cellphone that only dialed out to 911 and that’s how authorities became aware of the situation. The children had been locked in the basement since the day before, according to investigators.
The children had no visible bruises but were taken to a nearby hospital for examination, police said.
The mother, Charnae Lee, told police she told her kids to take their mattresses into the basement to discipline them. She said she was not aware the door was locked when she left for work.
Lee has been charged with unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, reckless endangerment and child endangerment. Her children will either be placed in the custody of a family member or the Department of Human Services.
A family friend told NBC 10 that the mother locked her kids in the basement because one of them stole money.
“What kind of person does this to their kids?” Aphordite Sanchez asked. “That’s not even a type of a punishment that you do.”
Other neighbors cut Lee some slack and said they never noticed any problems inside the home.
“She’s a very kind lady,” Sipes said. “She’s a very disciplined mom. And really, honestly, we’re all shocked. Because it doesn’t seem like something she would do.”
“She’s a single mom going to school, going to work and trying to support her kids,” Sipes added. “So it’s very hard for a mother to do that. So I think that it just caught up with her.”
Photo Credit: Philadelphia Police Department Via ABC Local