A Texas mother is accused of abandoning her five children to take an extended trip to Myrtle Beach.
Chrystal Nichole Walraven, 28, faces two two counts of abandoning or endangering a child after police discovered the children living in unsanitary and dangerous conditions without a parent or legal guardian from Aug. 26 to Aug. 30, 2018. Walraven's children are aged between 15 months old and 12.
Officers were called to the Round Rock, Texas home of Walraven after the principal of her children's elementary school had overheard her kids discussing the care of their younger sibling. At the residence, police noted a terrible odor and discovered the 15-month-old child barely breathing in a crib. Dirty diapers were allegedly strewn about the house and flies were buzzing in the kitchen.
A teacher contacted a man listed as the father of at least one of the children, who said that a neighbor was watching the kids while Chrystal was in South Carolina. The man said he had recently moved away from the home in question. A neighbor confirmed that she had helped to feed the children but “never knew exactly what was going on," according to an affidavit obtained by The Austin American-Statesman. The neighbor said the father of another one of the children had also been stopping by to check on the kids.
That father was contacted as well: he claimed that Walraven asked him to watch the five children while she went away but he couldn't. He says she left anyway and that he had stopped by a few times to see how the kids were doing.
Unnamed neighbors who spoke to FOX7 Austin claimed that Walraven's children were often heard playing outside until late at night and did not notice the absence of the mother.
Walraven was brought into the police station for an interview on Aug. 30, where she said she went to Myrtle Beach to visit tourist attractions and look for a job “because she needed to get away with everything that was happening at home," according to the affidavit. She claimed she had been communicating with the kids through Facebook messenger while she was gone.
A warrant was issued for her arrest last month. She turned herself in on Feb. 11 and was released on bond the same day.
In an interview with KXAN of Austin, Texas, Walraven denied that she had abandoned her children.
"[The father] was supposed to be over here with the kids and he even told him that he was here the night before ... and that he got them food and everything," said Walraven. "Mary [the neighbor] was here during the day, she actually had to give them the carseats because she had been taking the kids back and forth to school, like everything. So no, definitely didn't abandon them. They were supposed to be here with the children and did not do that."
The children were temporarily placed in foster care and have since gone to live with relatives, according to Marissa Gonzales, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
If found guilty on her charges, Walraven potentially faces between two and 20 years in prison.
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