The cries rang out in the dead of night: Someone reported hearing a child crying for “a long period of time” and that the sounds emanated from a San Antonio back yard, authorities said.
It was nearly midnight when Bexar County sheriff’s deputies arrived at the house. Their knocks went unanswered, spokesman James Keith told the Associated Press, and then they discovered a terrible sight in the back yard: two children, tied up.
“One of the toddlers was chained to the ground; the other was tied to a door with a dog leash,” the sheriff’s office said in a release.
“It’s sickening. To call this horrific would be an understatement,” Keith told the San Antonio News-Express. “If it wasn’t for our deputies and this caller who tipped us off, we know that this could have had an even worse outcome.”
Inside the house, deputies found six more children, ages 10 months to 13 years. No adults were at home, according to authorities.
The parents of the six children returned to the house early Friday morning, the sheriff’s office said.
The mother, 34-year-old Porucha Phillips, was arrested Friday afternoon and faces two felony charges of injury to a child. Jail records show she is waiting to go before a magistrate to be officially charged.
“It’s believed she was responsible for the care of the two children who were found tied up outside,” the sheriff’s office said in a release.
The child tied with a dog leash, a 3-year-old girl, had a broken arm, Keith told the News-Express.
A metal chain fastened to the ground had been strapped to a 2-year-old boy’s ankle, “the same kind of setup you would use for a dog,” Keith told AP.
Deputies released both children, who were taken to a local children’s hospital to be “treated for a variety of issues,” the sheriff’s office said in a release. All eight of the children are in the care of Child Protective Services.
Earlier Friday, the sheriff’s office said, “Investigators are also working to track down the parent(s) of the two children who were found outside.”
Keith told the News-Express: “We will dedicate every ounce of energy to making sure that those responsible are held accountable and that these children are never harmed again.”