CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island couple was facing serious allegations Thursday evening, claiming they left their four children home alone for six days without any food or heat.
As CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, police said the children were left alone in a small house on Dow Street in Central Islip. Their parents – Maria and Tulio Ayala – were charged with endangering the welfare of their children, ages 15, 13, 8, and 4.
Police said they were left without food or heat while the Ayalas stayed at a nearby hotel.
But the Ayalas told a different story.
“I have been a good parent for 15 years with them,” Tulio Ayala said.
Outside court after being arraigned and released, they told CBS 2 they left their four kids in the care of Tulio Ayala’s mother, who lives in the basement.
“We were having marital problems, and so I told my mom, ‘I’ll be back in a few days — can you watch them?’ And you know, she said she was fine with it,” Tulio Ayala said. “I left them with money in my own house, and she lives in the basement and everything, so they were not unattended.
The Ayalas said they left their children $100 dollars, food stamps and space heaters. But the grandmother called police, reporting the children home alone.
“She never called or attempted to text me, and said look, ‘I don’t want to watch them,’” Tulio Ayala said. “I would have come home.”
“I’m very upset. I just can’t stand how family can do this to you,” added Maria Ayala.
Police said it was school officials who notified them the children were left unsupervised for six days.
They said the grandmother worked and was not home supervising the children, and an oven was used to heat the home.
And neighbor Cathy Martin said the grandmother could not afford to take care the children. She said the parents are rarely home, and the children often seem hungry.
“You can tell when somebody needs something, and the little girl, Sasha — which is my sweetheart; they all are – she would always tell me they were, ‘I’m hungry,’ and I would always, just, you know, give her stuff,” Martin said. “I didn’t know it was to this level.”
Those close to the family said this isn’t the first tie the children were left home alone, WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported.
Police said the children were not harmed and were released in the care of a relative. The Ayalas said they will fight to get their children back.
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