2 toddlers found tied, chained in Texas backyard; parents still sought

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Monday, May 2, 2016

BEXAR COUNTY, Texas (WLS) -- Two toddlers - one tied on a dog leash and one chained to the ground - were found in a Texas back yard late Thursday, with six more children inside the nearby home, police said.

Bexar County Sheriff's Office is investigating child abuse allegations after a call to police around 11:45 p.m. Deputies were called to a house on the 8100-block of Chipping after a caller told dispatchers a child could be heard crying in the back yard for a "long period of time," a news release said. When deputies arrived, they say they found two toddlers in the backyard. One of the toddlers was chained to the ground; the other was tied to a door with a dog leash.

Deputies set both children free. They were then transported to Christus Santa Rosa Children's Hospital where they are currently being treated for a "variety of issues," the news release said.

Inside the home, deputies say they found six children, ranging in age from 10 months to 13 years old. All of the children were without adult supervision, police said.

On Friday, police say the parents of the six children returned to the house where both were taken into custody and are being questioned by investigators.

Investigators are working to track down the parent or parents of the two children who were found outside. Charges are pending.

All of the children are now in the care of Child Protective Services.

Two of the children, including one with a broken arm, remained hospitalized more than 12 hours after deputies first arrived to the house. The other six were placed in foster care. Officials were concerned that all the children may be malnourished, said Patrick Crimmins, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

The five girls and three boys were between the ages of 10 months and 10 years old, Crimmins said.

Porucha Phillips, 34, was charged with two counts of injury to a child by omission. Her bond was set at $75,000 on each charge, according to the website of the Bexar County Magistrate. It was not clear if she had an attorney and The Associated Press couldn't find working phone numbers for family members.

Authorities said Phillips is the mother of the six children found inside. Keith said the father had been working and showed up after deputies arrived.

Keith said authorities believe Phillips was responsible for the two children found outside. The family has no prior history with Texas child welfare officials, Crimmins said, but added that the agency was investigating a report that a home day care may have been operating at the address.

The brown townhouse had burglar bars covering the windows and posters obstructing the view inside.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.