Four young children who apparently didn't even know their own names have been rescued from a Dallas, Texas apartment law enforcement says "smelled like a dead animal."
Robert Preston, 31, was arrested on Sunday on charges of child endangerment after investigators rescued his children - a 2-year-old, 5-year-old and a set of 3-year-old twins - as well as a malnourished puppy locked in a closet, according to an arrest affidavit cited by WFAA in Dallas.
Police were called to the home over the weekend after a witness reported seeing one of the children running alone on the road. That child, one of the 3-year-old twins, was allegedly spotted wearing a T-shirt and only one shoe despite it being only 40 degrees outside, the Dallas Morning News reports.
Preston approached the responding officer to ask if his child was found after claiming he had left his kids alone for no more than 15 minutes while he went to the store, according to the WFAA report. Because Preston had a warrant out for his arrest for a probation violation in an aggravated robbery case, he was arrested. However, he reportedly expressed concern for his children as he was being put into the back of the patrol car.
The responding officer went to Preston's apartment which was unlocked, according to investigators. Inside, the officer found the other three boys in a furniture-less apartment which “reeked of feces," the affidavit said. The stove had allegedly been left on and the officer said he found a starving dog in the closet.
"The children reacted to the dog as if they had never seen it," the affidavit said. The puppy allegedly had no access to food or water in the closet.
The children “did not know their own names,” according to the affidavit and instead they all called each other "Robert," the name of their father. The affidavit claimed that the children communicated with one another with gestures and body language rather than with words.
"The children do not appear to have been socialized in a normal manner and it appears they have had limited contact with anyone outside of their immediate family," the officer wrote in the affidavit.
The affidavit also claimed that the home’s kitchen sink "smelled like a dead animal," and that the toilets did not appear to have been flushed in weeks.
Preston reportedly appeared unfazed by the conditions of the home, NBC 5 in Dallas Forth-Worth reports.
He now faces four charges of abandonment/endangerment of a child with intent to return. His bail has been set at $80,000 total for the child-endangerment counts. No bail has been set for the probation violation. It’s not clear if he has a lawyer who can speak on his behalf at this time.
The 2-year-old has been taken to a hospital for treatment while the other boys were put in the custody of Child Protective Services. The puppy was seized by Animal Services.
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