Tots wandered in cold while mom slept

A Grand Junction mother who claimed in December that she was being evicted because her 13-year-old son stole a pair of shoes from Kmart was arrested Thursday at the apartment from which she was supposed to be evicted.

When Tanya I. Abbey approached members of the media with her story in December, Housing Resources of Western Colorado Executive Director Dan Whalen told The Daily Sentinel he could not say why Abbey was being evicted from the government-subsidized Garden Village Apartments at 2601 Belford Ave., but he said it was not because of the shoe theft incident.

“There are other circumstances involved in this,” Whalen said in December.

Abbey, 31, was issued a summons Thursday at 2601 Belford Ave., No. 37, on suspicion of child abuse/negligence and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to the Grand Junction Police Department. A police officer was dispatched to the address about 6 p.m. Thursday on a report of two young children who had been outside in 37-degree weather for at least an hour wearing only pajamas.

A neighbor said she found the kids, who were estimated to be about 3 years old, “were cold, smelled terrible, appeared hungry and it was evident their diapers had not been changed for a while,” according to a case narrative. The neighbor changed the children’s diapers and fed them after unsuccessfully searching for their parents.

The officer spoke with a crowd of neighbors outside the apartment complex before figuring out which unit the children’s mother lived in. The officer approached the unit and found the front door open with an eviction notice attached to it.

The officer knocked on the door and got no response, then tried to call Abbey, but she did not answer, and the phone was not accepting messages.

Another officer arrived and the two officers opened the screen door and “loudly announced our presence.” They found Abbey and a male asleep with a marijuana grinder on the bed, according to the case report.

Abbey and the man woke up and appeared unable to sit still or keep their emotions level, indicators the officers believed may have indicated they had taken a stimulant such as methamphetamine, according to the case report.

The man later admitted to taking meth within the past 24 hours, according to the report.

During a search of the unit, officers found a container of pills, a bag of marijuana and hypodermic needles in the bedroom and bathroom, according to the report.

Abbey said she did know the items were in the residence and that they belonged to someone else.

A Department of Human Services worker responded to the residence and a grandmother took custody of the children, according to the case report.


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