SAN ANTONIO – Bexar County sheriff's deputies on Thursday night rescued eight children from a home in the northeast part of the county.
Two toddlers were found around 11:45 p.m. in the backyard of a home in the 8100 block of Chipping. One of them was chained to the ground and another was tied to a door with a dog leash, the Sheriff's Office said.
Inside the home, deputies found six more unattended children, ranging in age from 10 months to 10 years old.
The children were found after a woman called 911 and told dispatchers she suspected children were being abused at the home. She told authorities she had heard crying coming from the backyard for at least a couple of hours.
"Our deputies arrive to the house, they knock on the front door (and) no one answers. They go to the backyard, they get a ladder to look over the fence and that's where they see the two toddlers," Sheriff's Office spokesman James Keith said. "The little boy was chained to the ground. The little girl was tied up with a dog leash to a door. It was obvious they had both been there a while. There (were) obvious signs of abuse."
Children suffered broken bones, possible malnourishment
The toddlers found in the backyard were taken to Christus Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital, where they are being treated for a variety of issues, the Sheriff's Office said. All of the children found at the home are in the care of Child Protective Services.
The Department of Family and Protective Services said CPS took custody of five girls -- a 1-year-old, two 3-year-olds and a 9- and 10-year-old -- as well as three boys, ages 10 months, 4 years and 8 years.
The agency said all eight children have been given medical assessments and might have been malnourished. Six of the children have been medically cleared and released for foster care.
Two of the children remained in the hospital late Friday afternoon. CPS said one of them has a fractured right wrist and right arm and the other, a 3-year-old, has superficial injuries including abrasions and scarring.
"That's where we find our comfort, is knowing that these kids are out of harm's way," Keith said.
Porucha Phillips, 34, charged with injury to a child
The parents of the six children found inside returned to the house Friday morning and were taken in for questioning. The mother, Porucha Phillips, 34, has been arrested and charged with injury to a child by omission with serious bodily harm and injury to a child by omission with bodily injury. Investigators believe she was responsible for the care of the two children found tied up outside. Keith said they anticipate more charges to be filed.
Investigators are working to find the parents of the toddlers found outside.
CPS said it had no prior involvement with the family before Thursday. The Child Care Licensing division of DFPS is investigating a report that a day care might have been operating out of the home.
"To call this horrific is an understatement"
Keith said the Sheriff's Office wants to emphasize the importance of people calling authorities when they suspect that something might be wrong or that children are being abused.
"To call this horrific is an understatement. It's disgusting. It's sad. It's unbelievable," Keith said. "And we want the public to know that we will use every ounce of our energy to make sure the people who did this are held accountable and that these children are never hurt like this again."
Keith credited the 911 caller and deputies for their actions to help the children.
"We are grateful that this person was brave enough to call us and that our deputies were able to respond when they did. I don't even want to think about how this could have happened, how this could have played out, had our deputies not gotten there when they did," Keith said.
Christina Rivera, who lives nearby, said she was horrified to find out this was happening so close to her home.
"When we heard of it, it was bad," Rivera said. "It was shocking. Especially something happening across the street and we didn't even know about it or see it."
Anyone who suspects child abuse is taking place is asked to call authorities immediately.