Mother charged after children, ages 2 and 4, found begging for food

Posted at 12:40 PM, Jul 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-03 14:40:55-04

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    Johnston, IA (KCCI) —
A Johnston mother has been ordered to stay away from two children she was caring for after police said the children were found wandering outside alone, begging for food and water.

Winnie Wleh, 23, is charged with two counts of child endangerment.

The Johnston Police Department said the two children, ages 2 and 4, alone near an apartment pool at 6200 Clark Lane on June 16.

“There (are) no lifeguards on duty there, so they could have drowned and lost their life,” said Abby Beckett, who lives in the apartment complex.

Beckett said she was at the pool that day with her own old daughters when she noticed the children.

“I was very worried,” she said. “I just don’t understand how a mom could do this, like, just leave your children, you know?”

According to police, an officer tried to take the children back to their apartment, but the door was locked.

“Nobody was at home,” Johnston police Lt. Steve Nore said. “The doors were locked where the kids lived. They weren’t able to find a phone number.”

Police said an acquaintance took the children in and that officers spoke to Wleh the next day.

Nore said authorities are unclear why she left her two young children alone.

“The story she told us didn’t match up with what we were being told by witnesses,” he said.

It’s unclear exactly how long she had left the children alone, but police say any amount of time is too long.

“A 2 and a 4-year-old, they obviously can’t care for themselves,” Nore said. “So, whatever you have to do, unless it’s a life-threatening emergency, which, at that time, you should be calling us, it’s not worth putting your kids at risk.”

Wleh bonded out of Polk County Jail on Saturday.

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