Two parents were arrested on Monday after their two children were found alone, filthy, and covered in bugs at a Peoria apartment complex, AZfamily.com reports.
Maribel Colmenero and Angel Ortiz have been charged with felony child abuse with criminal negligence. A neighbor at Sonoma Place Apartments noticed that the children, ages 3 and 4, had been left alone outside in the stifling heat for an hour. Fortunately, the property manager decided to call 911.
The responding officers noticed a terrible smell coming from the apartment as soon as Colmenero and Ortiz answered the door. What they found inside resembled something out of a “Hoarders” episode.
According to police, the apartment was covered in debris, alcohol bottles, medicine containers, old food cartons, and filth. The worst part: the two toddlers were covered in lice, bugs, and scabs and hadn’t had a bath in recent memory.
“Both children were extremely dirty and smelled from more than 5 feet away,” court documents read.
Colmenero and Ortiz told police that they’d been napping and hadn’t noticed that their kids had wandered out. The children told officers that they were hungry and thirsty, and that Ortiz had abused them. Both Colmenero and Ortiz were booked on child abuse charges.
Under Arizona’s criminal code, any parent, guardian, or caretaker who neglects a child to the point that the child could suffer death or serious injury as a result, can be charged with felony child abuse in the state. If the abuse wasn’t intentional but was the result of criminal negligence or neglect, as is alleged here, it’s a class 4 felony.
If Maribel Colmenero and Angel Ortiz are convicted of their child abuse charges, they could spend anywhere from 4 to 8 years in prison for each conviction. Colmenero and Ortiz’s two children have been placed in the care of Child Protective Services.
- Officials: Peoria Parents Arrested After Kids Found Alone, Infested with Bugs (The Arizona Republic)
- Arizona Child Abuse Laws (FindLaw)
- Child Abuse Cases (FindLaw)
- Woman Gets 5 Years for Locking Stepdaughter in Bathroom (FindLaw’s Phoenix Family Law Blog)