A homeless woman in Modesto, Calif., was arrested Saturday night on child endangerment charges after police reportedly discovered her two toddlers had been sleeping in bushes for nearly a week.
The Modesto Bee reports that 27-year-old Chardenae VanRooyen told officers that she had been staying in nearby motel rooms while her 3-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son stayed with their father outside.
Police officers became aware of the situation after being called to investigate an abandoned stroller. They found VanRooyen lying down with her children in the bushes. She told officers she had come outside to eat dinner with her family and found that the children's father had left.
Police spokeswoman Heather Graves told the Modesto Bee that VanRooyen said she couldn’t bear to see her children living like that, yet gave no reason as to why they couldn’t come inside with her.
“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.”
The Modesto Bee reports that there were blankets around the bushes where the children were discovered, however, the children were dirty, hungry, and poorly dressed.
VanRooyen is said to have refused an offer by police officers to be taken to a homeless shelter. The officers reportedly told her of 15 places in the area that could provide her and her family with food, shelter and clothing. Graves told her that living in the bushes “did not have to be an option.”
According to Graves, the children were “very excited” when officers brought the children food from the nearby Wendy’s.
VanRooyen was arrested on charges of suspicion of child abandonment and neglect. She was released on $50,000 bond Monday. The children are currently in the custody of Child Protective Services. The father of the children has not been located.
There is no word on any drug use or why she couldn’t bring her children into the motel rooms.