Updated: Wednesday, 01 Dec 2010, 10:36 AM MST
Published : Wednesday, 01 Dec 2010, 10:36 AM MST
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - A state agency found 17 children all under the age of 10 living without food or a working toilet in single-residence home in southwest Albuquerque. They were living in the home with six adults.
According to a criminal complaint made public on Tuesday, the state Children, Youth and Families Department went to the home on Tapia Boulevard SW on Oct. 21 to conduct a welfare check.
When they arrived, the deputies reported finding 17 "filthy" children, no food in the pantry or refrigerator, a strong odor of human excrement as well as a nonworking toilet. There were few pieces of furniture, clothing or food in the home.
The investigator said that "Several of the children were malnourished and in need of antibiotics for untreated and ongoing sinus infections," investigators said in the complaint. "A couple of the younger children needed emergency dental surgery due to their (rotted teeth)."
The investigator also mentioned that many of the school-aged children were "developmentally behind for their age groups. Several can't read or write."
One concerned neighbor told News 13 that she would often see at least 10 of the kids running around outside in dirty clothes, some without shoes.
"I'm seeing these little kids, and I'm coming during the times that they should have been in school," the neighbor said.
When interviewing a 9-year-old child, the child told investigators that "sometimes [the family] has food and sometimes doesn't." The child said, sometimes, she is very hungry.
Another child said their mom put their brother in the closet and that their "mom steals food when they don't have any."
"This is the first time I've witnessed 17 kids getting taken out of one home," Bernalillo County sheriff's Deputy Lawrence Koren said.
According to another child, the two older kids, ages 8 and 9, were "made to take care and feed the rest of the children."
The report claimed there are six adults living in the home. Five of the adults are brothers and sisters with the other being a cousin.
According to the CYFD investigator on the scene, this group of children has been involved in other "neglect issues...since August 2010, with no or little cooperation from all the adults/parents in the family." The investigator alleged the family often moves to escape capture.
"In Albuquerque, it was hard to keep track of them," CYFD spokesperson Romaine Serna said.
In the report, the investigator said "this family was intending to move when the children were placed in their custody because Nancy Peña had already rented an apartment to be moved into by Oct. 5."
Serna said Albuquerque case workers are not the only ones trying to track them down.
"They have a protective-service history in three other states; Arizona, Texas and Colorado," Serna said.
Five adults have been charged with three counts of child abuse. The sixth adult was charged with a misdemeanor. The identity of the sixth adult is unknown at this time.