By Marice Richter
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A Texas mother has been arrested on charges of endangering her five children ranging in age from 3 months to 8 years, who were discovered last week at home alone in filth, authorities said on Thursday.
Jessica Petroni, 27, was arrested on Friday after police were alerted to check on the children when the 8-year-old boy failed to show up for school for several days in the North Texas town of Bowie, police said.
"It was trash dump in that house," said Bowie Police Lieutenant Rick Beckham. "There were feces all over the floor and even in the refrigerator."
Police found the 8-year-old in charge of his siblings, two girls ages 4 and 2, and two baby boys, a 17-month-old and a 3-month-old. The youngest two were wearing soiled diapers that appeared not to have been changed for days.
Three of the children were malnourished, including the 3-month-old who appeared to be near death, Beckham said. No food was found in the home.
Petroni has been charged with five counts of endangering a child, a state jail felony punishable by up to two years in jail. A lawyer for her was not immediately available for comment.
The children were placed in foster care, according to Texas Department of Family and Protective Services spokeswoman Marleigh Mesiner.
(Reporting by Marice Richter; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)