An Indianapolis mother has been arrested on neglect charges after police said they found her four children in deplorable conditions at an east side motel.
Police said the woman admitted to leaving her baby and three other children alone while she was undergoing drug treatment at a methadone clinic.
Police received an anonymous call reporting that four children had been left alone in a motel room in the 8800 block of East 21st Street on Wednesday morning. When officers arrived and knocked on the door, they said a 6-year-old girl answered.
Police started looking around and found the 6-year-old was the oldest child in the room. She had been trying to care for her four-month-old sibling, they said.
Police wrote in their report that a small refrigerator in the room only had some condiment packages and no food, and the baby had no sanitary formula for meals. Police said some powdered formula had been left on the floor with the container lid open, while a few bottles were found elsewhere at room temperature without refrigeration.
The other children complained that they were extremely hungry, police said. When asked the last time they had eaten, police said the children could not recall.
Officers listed in their report that chips and some other snack foods were scattered in the room, and they found cigarette burn holes in the blanket that all four children were using to keep warm.
Officers said the oldest girl was trying to take care of the 4-month-old, while her two 4-year-old brothers were found dressed in clothing that was not appropriate for their size or age.
The baby’s diaper was found to have been soiled “for a long time” and the baby also showed signs of bleeding and other problems associated with diaper rash.
An ambulance was called to check out all four children, who were transported to Eskenazi Hospital for treatment. Doctors told police that the baby had a severe rash from soiled diapers, which had led to an infection that required treatment. They also found scarring from past diaper rashes that had not been treated, police said.
The three older children told hospital personnel that they were hungry and thirsty.
The kids said they had been staying at the motel for a long time, and they often had no place to sleep because their mother had so many guests typically staying in the room with her, police said.
As the children were being treated, police said the mother arrived back at the motel.
At first, she claimed the kids had only been left alone for 10-minutes, but officers read her Miranda rights and pressed her, saying they had been on the scene for a full hour already. Then, police said she admitted that she had left them alone while she was at a nearby methadone clinic.
Amber Smith, 33, was booked on four felony charges of neglect of a dependent.
Child Protective Services took emergency custody of the children, police said.
The oldest child told police that her mother had left more than one hour before police arrived, and she said the mother would often “leave to go find medicine,” police said.
The 6-year-old said she would often have to care for her younger siblings while her mother was finding “medicine” or looking for money to buy it.
Police said clothes and trash were scattered all over the motel room and the few bottles left in the room for the baby were not refrigerated. The bathroom was full of dirty dishes, some of which had mold on them, according to police.
The 6-year-old girl told officers that she had been instructed by her mother never to answer the door, even for police, because police would take them away from her.