Mom accused of leaving kids alone returns

January 30, 2008 4:13:19 AM PST
A woman who police say abandoned her six children on New Year's Eve to fly to Nigeria to marry a man she met online was arrested at the Houston airport Monday as she tried to reenter the country. Harris County sheriff's deputies, with help from Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, detained Shanell Monique Mosley, 33, at the Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston around 2:30 p.m. as she exited an Air France flight that had originated in Africa.

"She wasn't anticipating that we'd be waiting for her at the airport," Lt. John Legg, a spokesman for the Harris County Sheriff's Office, told ABC News. Mosley was immediately taken into custody and booked into Harris County Jail, Legg added.

Mosley faces child endangerment and child abandonment charges and is being held without bond, Legg said. She is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday, according to the county's online criminal records.

Authorities reportedly learned about the abandoned children after Mosley's 15-year-old daughter, who had been left in charge of the group, crashed the family's vehicle into the garage door. Officers went to the house Jan. 2 and discovered eight children ranging in age from 1 to 15 at home alone.

Six of the children were Mosley's, while two belonged to a neighbor. "The residence was in complete disarray," Legg said, describing the condition of the house as "filthy." "Clothing was everywhere, unwashed dishes, strong odors of mildew and rot."

Mosley had not left behind anything for the children to eat and no money for them to buy food. "Nor did they have the means to contact their mother," Legg said, "or know exactly where she was."

The children were put into child protective services in Houston and authorities began investigating the woman's whereabouts. "They were able to determine that she apparently went to Africa to get married," Legg said, adding that it's still unclear whether an actual marriage took place and if so, where the new husband is.

Earlier this month, a Texas judge granted child protective services custody of her six children until it could be determined whether any of the woman's family members were capable of caring for them, according to the Houston Chronicle.

A spokesman for the Harris County Child Protective Services did not return a message from ABC News.

It was unclear whether Mosley, who moved with her children from Louisiana to Houston after Hurricane Katrina, had retained an attorney.

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