A 23-year-old mother who police said abandoned her four children in a filthy and collapsing rowhouse was being sought on child abuse charges.
Janet Moore, of the 1300 block of Wilcox St., left her children alone in the house starting at midnight Friday, police said. They are ages 7 months and 2, 3 and 5 years.
The three boys and a girl were discovered at 5 a.m. Saturday after one child went across the street and knocked on the neighbor's door seeking doughnuts and other food.
Authorities had planned to place the children in foster care because no relatives could be located. But today the children's aunt, Tina Moore, said they had been taken in by their grandmother, Loudelle Moore, 51, in West Baltimore. There was "no mention of a father" in the police report.
An arrest warrant has been issued charging Janet Moore with four counts of child abuse.
Tina Moore, 26, described her sister as "a great mother. She did the best that she could [being only] 23 years old. She did her best."
The family was living on welfare payments of $377 a month until the birth of the youngest child, when the amount increased, said the aunt. The family was charged about $200 a month in rent for a Formstone-fronted rowhouse in the Johnston Square section of East Baltimore, just south of Greenmount Cemetery.
Ms. Moore said the place had rats and no glass in the windows when the family moved in.
At 10 a.m. today, the building's owner evicted the family for non-payment of rent. Their possessions, many of them broken, littered the street and sidewalk in front of the house.
Tina Moore said her sister was not involved with drugs. "I've had thoughts that someone came and took her," she said.
A neighbor called police about the children early Saturday morning. Inside the unlocked house, officers discovered the partially clothed, hungry children. The infant and a 2-year-old were in a cradle and on a sofa on the first floor. The other child was sitting on a step while the fourth remained at the neighbor's house.
Half-cooked hamburger patties were in a skillet on the stove top, the police report said.
"Somebody attempted to cook food. There were exposed ground beef patties picked at by the children or by animals," said Sgt. Richard Price, of the Eastern District.
The interior of the three-bedroom row house was described by police as "very unsanitary living conditions."
Human feces were found on the floor and in the toilet of the bathroom. The kitchen ceiling was partially collapsed with wallboard scattered on the floor and on top of the stove, the report said.
The police crime lab was called to investigate, said Sergeant Price.
The whereabouts of Ms. Moore early Saturday were not known by the children, Sergeant Price said.
Neighbors told police that Ms. Moore had also previously abandoned the children, he said.
The children were taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital in an ambulance. They were examined in the emergency room and no injuries were found, Sergeant Price said.