PORTAGE, Ind. — A woman accused of abandoning her three children was mistakenly released from jail due to a mix-up in paperwork.
Thanh Nguyen, 46, was released from the Porter County Jail Sunday after posting a $1,500 cash bond. However, a judge had ordered her held until Tuesday for a hearing. The sheriff’s department admitted it made a mistake allowing Nyugen to bond out.
Police said Nguyen’s children, ages 10, 11 and 16 were living alone in a trailer home in Portage, Ind., and their situation only came to light when the 16-year-old son asked for help at school.
The teen wanted to know what to do to fix a broken water pipe. School officials were concerned about the question, so reached out to police.
Nguyen was charged with three felony counts of child abandonment and one felony count of drug possession.
The affidavit alleged that the kids were left alone in the trailer for long periods of time without a working furnace, running water or even a usable bathroom.
What really worried the investigators was that the kids were using space heaters and sometimes the stove for heat — creating an extreme risk of fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. One of the trailers at the park burned down earlier that week.
Investigators believed the 16-year-old did his best to care for his younger siblings, with some help from a relative who lives in the area, but said they’re not certain when they last had any parental supervision.
The three children were taken to Child Protective Services.
Police said according to the children, they said they hadn’t seen her in sometimes a few days, but at times stretches of several months.