A Pennsylvania woman said in court Wednesday she concealed her five children from the world because she ran away at 16 and wanted to stay in hiding.
Louann E. Bowers, 34, told a judge that her children did not get medical or dental care, attend school or have birth certificates, The York Dispatch reported.
"It wasn't the best of choices," Bowers said as she pleaded no contest to five counts of child endangerment. "I know it was wrong."
Prosecutors said Bowers and the children lived in squalor in a dilapidated home in the south-central Pennsylvania city of York that lacked heat, electricity, water or a working toilet. Bowers denies they lived there.
Police and a child caseworker found the children, then ranging from about 2 to 13 years old, living with Bowers in a motel two years ago. Bowers gave birth to a sixth child while in prison. Prosecutors said all six are in foster care.
Bowers' family reported her missing in 1993, and state police believe she ran away with the children's father, Sinhue Amea Johnson, who is her uncle by marriage. Bowers' lawyer, Ron Gross, told The York Dispatch that her family had her declared dead five years ago.
Her sentencing was scheduled for June 22. Gross said sentencing guidelines call for three to 12 months in prison for each of the five counts.
Johnson, 46, awaits trial on the same child endangerment charges.
Information from: The York Dispatch, http://www.yorkdispatch.com