KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Police are searching for a mother after taking her three young children into protective custody Thursday.
Police say the kids, the oldest of whom is just 5 years old, had been living in squalor.
KCK police say a neighbor called them yesterday just before 5 p.m. saying that a 4-year-old boy was at their door looking for his mom.
Photos show what police found when they went inside the apartment where the boy was living. In a social media post, police Chief Terry Ziegler called the home "deplorable."
Officers found two more children inside the home and took them into protective custody with the boy.
The 4-year-old boy told officers he had not eaten for several days.
Neighbors we talked with say they're not surprised by all of this, saying they have provided food for the children on other occasions.
"One time, one of the men that would watch her kids came over and asked me did I have some food?" neighbor Joanice Walker said. "And could I cook it in my house? I said, 'Yeah, what’s wrong with her stove?' He said her house was too nasty. And basically she did not want the manager to come in there and see it."
A woman claiming to be the children's mother called FOX4 Friday morning. She says she left her kids in the care of a family member and that relative abandoned them. She denies that her children had been left hungry and uncared for. She confirmed that one of her children has a learning disability. Officers reported one child having mental development issues. But this woman would not identify herself.
KCK police say they continue to investigate and have notified the Kansas Department of Children and Families. Criminal charges have yet to be filed in the case.