AUBURN, Wash. – When a woman was booked into jail on June 10, her two young children were left abandoned for four days.
Qiara Dennis, 23, was booked into the Cowlitz County jail for driving with a suspended license.
Four days later, the apartment manager in Auburn called 911 and reported that he heard a child crying and asking for her mother.
Police statements indicate that they found the abandoned children living in intolerable, dangerous conditions.
Police reported that spoiled food and human waste were littered across the floor of the Auburn apartment; Dennis’ 1-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter were covered in urine and feces.
According to court documents, the 1-year-old boy had developed a rash on his genitals.
In their mother’s absence, the children had been unable to open the refrigerator. For days, all they had eaten were grapes, chips and soda.
Investigators are saying that Dennis never mentioned that she had children.
Dennis’ neighbors reportedly heard the 3-year-old screaming from the second-floor window and begging for her mother.
Neighbor Celina Dominguez noted that, “You could just hear the little girl saying, “I can’t open the door! I can’t open.”
Dominguez also stated that she didn’t realize the children’s mom had been gone for so long, and that children as young as Dennis’ “can’t fend for themselves. They can’t pour something to drink or use the sink.”
Police have said that the case is unprecedented.
“Never in my 22 years at the Auburn Police Department have [I] seen a tragic child abandonment case like this one,” said Auburn Police Cmdr. Mike Hirman.
The children have been placed in foster care.
Dennis has been charged with two counts of second-degree abandonment, and is being held on $100,000 bail.