Updated: Friday, 20 Jul 2012, 7:16 PM EDT
Published : Friday, 20 Jul 2012, 11:15 AM EDT
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) - Police arrested a Newport News woman for leaving her daughters at home for weeks without food, water or electricity.
During a welfare check at 1200 74th Street, officers found two female siblings aged 13 and 14 in unlivable conditions.
Police found no food, gas, or running water inside the home. They say a mattress was in the middle of the living room floor. The kitchen had several bags full of garbage which filled the house with a strong odor of decay.
When asked of their mother's whereabouts, the juveniles told police they had not seen her in almost two weeks and were unaware of where she was.
Child Protective Services took the siblings into custody and two felony warrants for child neglect were issued for their mother, Jessica Rodriguez Diaz-Velaz.
Diaz-Velez was located at her residence Wednesday after police received a tip from the Crime Line.
Neighbor Diana Harper says she saw all kinds of people going in and out of the house next door. But she never knew two teenage girls lived there until recently.
"There were two homeless people that were living here, supposedly taking care of the little girls," Harper said. "I didn't like him. For one thing, when I brought food over, he had his friends over in the backyard and they were drinking and carrying on and eating the food we brought for the children."
Several other neighbors say they personally brought food to the girls because they feared Diaz-Velez would never come back. Some would even take the teens grocery shopping or out to eat. They could tell the children were struggling.
"They were very quiet," Harper said. "They acted like animals that had been abused, you know, if you abused a dog, a dog will be skittish and it's afraid of you. That's how they acted, like they're afraid of me."
Another neighbor says the girls looked malnourished.
"[I've] seen desperation, [I've] seen fear, [I've] seen hunger," Edwin Cheseman said. "They were sitting in the house the other day eating ketchup packages. I'm over here shaking that's how irritated I am about it."
Neighbors say the children's mother often seemed out of it and angry. An open garage door gave an inside look at the living conditions. There was dirty bedding and garbage on the floor.
"It's just hard to see stuff like that," said Cheseman. "When you live here in America, you don't expect to see stuff like that."
Diaz-Velez has two other children, a teenage girl and a young boy, according to neighbors. It is not clear who is caring for those children.
Neighbors say they have been calling police and CPS for months and are finally happy to see the children taken out of the home. CPS can not comment on how many times it has been to the residence.
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