PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - A Florida woman is facing charges of child neglect after authorities said she left three young children home alone for weeks in a room bereft of furniture.
One of the children told police on Nov. 8 that he hadn't had contact with Maria Trinidad Perez, 32, in at least two weeks. He said the only times he saw her was when she was dropping off food.
Perez's roommate called authorities Nov. 8 to report he hadn't seen her in three weeks. He led police to a back bedroom where officers found three children, described in a probable cause affidavit as a "pre teen aged boy, (an) elementary aged boy and a small child." Authorities said they appeared to be dressed for school, though it was already 11:15 a.m. by the time officers found them.
A school social worker told deputies the children were absent from classes for the three days prior to the police report and that they were late to school in the three days before that. The social worker added that the children "have missed 15 days total this year," according to authorities.
The oldest child told investigators he last saw Perez around 6 p.m. the day before, when she met him in the carport to give him food from McDonald's to give to the other children. He said she was with a woman he didn't recognize and that after she left, he was unable to reach her.
Deputies discovered the youngest child, a 3-year-old boy who was asleep when authorities found him, sweating profusely with a temperature of 99.1 degrees. He had a small cut on his forearm, which came from an exposed pipe that was sticking out of the floor, investigators said.
"(One of the children) said on the weekends, the (redacted) sit in the room alone as there is not much for them to do," according to the probable cause affidavit. "He said they have not had furniture in a few days. He said laundry had not been done for them in about a week."
Deputies were eventually able to get hold of Perez, who told police she was at work. Her roommate, however, told police she had no job and that he didn't know where she went every day.
When Perez arrived at the home, deputies noted she "appeared disheveled."
"I asked her why (redacted) were late to school and she said it was because he (redacted) broke his arm three months ago and has a doctor's note," a Palm Beach County deputy wrote in the probable cause affidavit. "I asked her why the (redacted) have not had breakfast and she said she was coming to take them. I asked how she was going to do that when she was at work and she said she was going to bring them after. I reminded her it was almost noon and she shrugged."
On Nov. 8, deputies arrested Perez on three counts of neglect of a child without great bodily harm, according to jail records. She was released on bail the following day.