A Modesto woman was arrested Saturday night after officers say she admitted that her two young children had been sleeping in bushes along McHenry Avenue for a week.
Officers were called to a parking lot shared by Wendy’s and Denny’s north of Coolidge Avenue on a report of a baby left alone in a stroller about 11:15 p.m., said Modesto police spokeswoman Heather Graves.
Officers located Chardenea VanRooyen, 27, sleeping in the bushes with her 3-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son.
Graves said VanRooyen told officers that the children had spent about five nights sleeping in the bushes with their father while she stayed in other people’s rooms at two McHenry Avenue motels.
“She said she can’t stay there because she can’t see her children staying in the bushes,” said Graves. “When officers asked why she doesn’t take the children with her to the hotel, she just says again she doesn’t want to see her kids sleeping in the bushes.”
Graves said officers offered to take VanRooyen and her children to a homeless shelter, but she refused.
Officers never located the father VanRooyen said stayed with the children. She said she’d come to meet them all for dinner but the father had left.
Graves said there were a few blankets in the area in which the children were sleeping, but the children were dirty, not adequately dressed and didn’t have food.
“They were very excited when officers got them food (from the nearby) Wendy’s,” Graves said.
VanRooyen was arrested on suspicion of child abandonment and neglect. Child Protective Services took custody of the children.