He said, "I was out of town, in Conroe actually, when I got the phone call."
He admits he knew how the children were living.
"I was there last night," he said.
But it was their mother, he says, who left them home alone.
"She was here last night with them when I left," Burist said. "She says she left them with a babysitter."
That's a different story from what his seven-year-old daughter is telling. The girl told apartment manager Eve Jordan both her parents left in a cab Monday night. She got herself up this morning to go to school. When she missed the bus, she asked a passing motorist to take her, but she wanted to check in on her siblings, ages 2, 3, and 5, first. They were still in apartment #397 all alone.
Jordan said, "Their diapers were all dirty with poo poo. You could see the diapers were hanging on all three of them."
Jordan says the children were crying and one was eating old food. There were maggots inside the refrigerator and a mess all over the floor.
"It stunk," said Jordan. "There were flies all over the place and cats were in there with them."
She's heartbroken. So are the neighbors.
Neighbor Ethel Johnson said, "If she would have knocked on my door, I would have taken those children in and kept those children."
The children were taken to the hospital to be checked out. It's unclear how long they had been home alone, but neighbors describe a pattern.
"The mom is always gone," said upstairs neighbor Gary Rusher. "The dad is gone. The dad will be gone for days. The mom will be out until 2 or 3 o'clock at night coming in, and they're there by themselves."
The apartment is now empty. The state has temporary custody of the children as Burist gets ready to defend himself to a judge.
He said, "People that know me, know me. They know that I'm a good father and I'm all about my children."
Burist says while this is his primary residence, he and the children's mother are no longer together, so he's not here very often. He says he has talked to her today, but she's too scared to come around. He plans to be at an emergency custody meeting Wednesday morning.
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