The bus where the children were found in Spendora, Texas
Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle/AP
03/08/2012 at 03:10 PM EST
A postal worker called Child Protective Services on Wednesday after she found two Splendora, Texas, children living in an abandoned school bus.
An 11-year-old girl and her 5-year-old brother were discovered in the window-blocked vehicle that was covered in trash in the woods.
The kids, whose names have not been released to protect their identities, have been living basically alone in the vehicle since the beginning of the year. Their parents are in federal prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to embezzle money from Hurricane Ike victims in 2008. Both parents were sentenced to 18 months.
Following an investigation, officials discovered that one of the children's aunts stays with them at night. The aunt told Montgomery County Constable Rowdy Hayden that she provides meals for them during the day when they are alone during her work hours, according to reports.
"Looking around [the bus], we didn't see a lot of food readily available," Hayden told ABC's local affiliate KTRK-TV
. "One of the neighbors had told us earlier that from time to time she will bring food over for the children."
"[The kids] always had dirty clothes on [and] no shoes, even in the winter," neighbor Gayla Payne told The Houston Chronicle
, adding that the sister told Payne's daughter she only bathes twice a week.
The children's mother tells Eyewitness News
from a prison phone that she and her husband were planning to build a house on the lot where the bus sits, and once they went to jail, they had the aunt and neighbors watch over the kids in their bus.
The mom also says the bus has hot and cold running water and electricity, and that she's on the phone with her children from prison very frequently. She says she is hoping to regain custody of the kids when she's free in 30 days.