US mother charged with abandoning kids in favour of four-day beach holiday

A Texas woman has been charged after she allegedly left her five young children home alone for four days while she took a trip to the beach.

Chrystal Walraven, 28, was arrested in February, and recently released court documents detail what police believe happened the previous August.

Police were first alerted that something was amiss on August 29, when the principal of Gattis Elementary School in Round Rock told them about concerning comments made by some of Walraven's children who are students there.

He told officers that her older children had mentioned having to stay up all night to change their baby sister's nappy. The youngsters range in age from 15 months to 12 years.

That afternoon officers went to the house where they spoke to Walraven's 10-year-old son. The boy said everything was fine - but police could smell an "overwhelming odour" of faeces and rubbish emanating from the property.

When they went inside, they saw a gruesome sight - a baby girl lying in a crib, apparently dead. A blanket had been pulled over her mouth and she wasn't moving. To the officers' relief, they discovered she was alive when they removed the blanket and she took a breath.

Police found Walraven's three other children in the house, including a 12-year-old boy and two girls aged three and six. The house was a mess, with stained carpet, flies in the kitchen and a soiled nappy left in a closet. Officers found that there were multiple knives within the children's reach.

Neighbours told FOX7 they assumed Walraven was at work, and that it wasn't unusual for her children to play outside until midnight.

When the father of one of the children was contacted about the situation, he said Walraven had gone to South Carolina and a neighbour was meant to be looking after the youngsters. He later told police he'd recently moved out of the Pound Rock home and was now living in another state.

A neighbour who'd made dinner for the children the night before told police she "never knew exactly what was going on" with the family, but said she hadn't noticed their house smelled bad. She told police another one of the children's fathers was meant to be taking care of them while their mother was away.

An affidavit says that man later presented himself at the local police station to try to get "his child" back. He told officers Walraven had asked him to watch all five children on August 25, and when he told her he couldn't she left them alone anyway. He said he fed the children and paid them visits over the next few days.

On August 30, Walraven returned home and told police she'd been in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. She said she was investigating a job opportunity, but also that she "needed to get away with everything that was happening at home", according to the affidavit.

She said she intended to come back on August 28, but her flight had been delayed. She also said she'd stayed in contact with her children via Facebook Messenger.

Over the next few months police conducted a "thorough investigation" into the bizarre case, a spokesperson said.

On February 11, Walraven was charged with two counts of abandoning or endangering a child, which is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Her children were placed in foster care but are now living with relatives, FOX7 reports.