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article image2 young children found living in abandoned bus in Texas

By Cynthia Trowbridge     Mar 9, 2012 in Lifestyle
Splendora, Texas - An 11-year-old girl and her 5-year-old brother were found living in an old abandoned school bus. The children were dirty and unkempt.
A postal worker contacted authorities after repeatedly seeing the unkempt children. She believed the children had been living there for months.
The authorities found the bus was stench-filled and the lot the bus was on was covered with trash.
There was an air conditioner in one window and bunk beds for the two children. reports Gayla Payne who lived nearby said, "They always had dirty clothes on (and) no shoes, even in the winter." She also said the 11-year-old girl told her daughter that she bathes twice a week. reports the postal worker saw the children near Houston and that was when she contacted the authorities.
Vanessa Picazo said,"The little girl's hair was just matted, like a stray dog's."
Precinct 4 Constable Kenneth “Rowdy” Hayden along with a Precinct 4 Corporal went to where the children were living in the bus. A great-aunt said she worked from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and also lived in the bus. reports Hayden said, “This is a very disturbing situation on many levels. I’m glad someone took the initiative to report what was happening and as a result, these two children will now receive the help they need and hopefully get their lives and education back on track.”
The authorities found the children's parents were both in federal prison after being convicted of embezzling money from victims of Hurricane Ike.
The mother, Sherrie Shorten, was arrested in December 2010 and the father, Mark Shorten, was arrested in March 2011.
The children's father said it was never his intention for the bus to be a permanent home. He said they had planned to build a home on the property.
The reports Shorten said, “The house is normally clean. If me or my wife were there, it would not be in that shape, I assure you. Our house would be completed or almost completed.”
Randal McCann an attorney who had represented the mother before she went to prison said the aunt had been caring for the children.
Referring to a report in the Houston Chronicle McCann said “It was believed by everybody involved in this case that (the aunt) was properly tending to those children. What I saw in the newspaper this morning was shocking.” He added, “But there was no indication that the living conditions were as bad as those photographs”
Gwen Carter a spokesman for Child Protective Services said authorities were less concerned about the bus itself than with children’s overall well-being.
She said, “It’s not the bus. It’s the condition and supervision issues." She said they understand that poor families often must resort to dire living arrangements.
Mark Shorten said he had not slept since he heard his children were taken. He said the aunt just couldn't keep up and the garbage on the property was from neighbors dumping their garbage there.
Sherrie Shorten who is scheduled to be released next month said, “I’m coming home in 30 days to be able to take care of my kids.”
The girl will be turning 12 later this month. When Constable Hayden asked her what she would like for her birthday she said she would like to eat at the Golden Corral.
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