UPDATE: The mother has now been located, officials say. But take a look at these exclusive photos that tell more about what was happening at this vacant rental house than others have reported …
Neighbors say that three young abandoned children were found living among squatters at this vacant rental house in the Foster-Powell Neighborhood.
Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The cries and voices of frightened very young children caught the attention of neighbors living near a vacant rental house at 7945 SE Rhine Street on the morning of May 24.
Judy Baxter told media she called 9-1-1 after hearing what sounded to her like children in distress; and said she watched, as Portland Police Bureau (PPB) East Precinct officers and Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) workers responded to the scene at 9:25 a.m.
“It was heartbreaking to see the little kids come out,” Baxter told reporters. “Whose are they? I don’t know.” As if speaking to the missing parents, she added, “Come back and look for your babies!”
Authorities began looking for the parent or parents responsible for abandoning this infant and these two toddlers.
The trio of “very young children”, as officials described them, included an infant girl, and two toddlers – a boy and girl.
The smiles on the faces of these abandoned children belied the fact that they’d just been found near a shed behind the house neighbors said was occupied by squatters who’d broken in through the back door.
“While contacting a number of homeless people on the premises,” reported PPB Public Information Officer Lt. Robert King, “officers discovered there were three very young children present, all of whom appeared to be under four years of age.”
Looking down from atop a public right-of-way berm between SE Powell Blvd and the rear of the property, we saw what appears to be an infant backpack carrier, hung from the limb of this tree.
The homeless persons there told the officers that the children had been abandoned the night before, King added, by a woman whom they believed was the children’s mother. “The children were immediately taken into the protective custody of DHS, and were medically evaluated to check their welfare. DHS is asking for the public’s help in identifying the children.”
King said the police concern is first for the welfare of the abandoned children, but also whether foul play may have kept the parents for caring for their kids.
Supplies and tarps are clear and fresh evidence of transient camping behind the vacant home’s fence.
By noon the following day, King reported that the mother of the children had been located. “We thank everyone who helped with information. There will be no more details released about this case as it is still under investigation.”
No names or circumstances were disclosed, and the children remain in the protective custody of the Department of Human Services.
© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News