Indiana mother charged in 2 deaths, told police she locked children in closet for 10 hours

A woman charged in the deaths of two of her children told officers she locked them and three siblings inside a closet so she could visit a neighbor, then found the boy and girl dead when she returned about 10 hours later, authorities said.

An Indianapolis police report released Tuesday said Edyan Farah, 28, told officers she "was not in her right mind" when she allegedly put the five children in an upstairs closet about 6 a.m. Sunday and placed a bed in front of the door so they couldn't get out. Police said the closet was about 6 feet long and 18 inches deep.

Farah, an immigrant from Somalia, found her 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son "stiff and unresponsive" when she returned home about 10 1/2 hours later and opened the closet, the report said. She told officers she then carried them downstairs, but did not call 911 or try to revive them, according to the report.

On Monday, Farah was charged with two preliminary counts of neglect of a dependent resulting in death. She remained jailed Tuesday on a $200,000 bond and was scheduled to be formally charged Wednesday, said Julio Fernandez, a spokesman for the Marion County Jail.

Susan Decker, a spokeswoman for the county prosecutor's office, said Tuesday she did not know whether Farah had an attorney. She said the prosecutor's office had no comment on the case, adding that "everything is still under investigation at this point."

Lt. Jeff Duhamell said the three surviving children are now in foster care.

"It's just a very, very sad case," he said. "It's one of the worst ones I've seen — to be placed in closet approximately 18 inches by 6 feet and a bed pushed up against it for a minimum of 10 hours. We think possibly a lot longer and probably not the first time."

Police said the siblings appeared malnourished and neighbors said they had noticed that the children appeared unusually thin.

An autopsy performed Monday did not show how the boy and girl died. Coroner's office manager Marchele Hall said Tuesday that toxicology results that could reveal that would take three to four weeks.

The police report said Farah told detectives that after locking the children in the closet she left the apartment to first speak to a neighbor, then going with that woman to her nearby apartment.

Authorities were called to the two-story apartment at Manchester Village Apartments about four hours after Farah said she returned.

The report said a family friend grew concerned that Farah was "acting strangely" and would not allow anyone into the apartment after she had returned.

The report said the wife of that friend — the woman Farah had visited with — called Farah's uncle to the complex and that when the uncle looked into an open door in the apartment he saw what appeared to be a dead child on a couch.

When that man tried to call 911, Farah allegedly grabbed his phone and threw it. He retrieved the phone and held Farah while the family friend called 911.

Medics who arrived at the scene shortly afterward found both children "in full rigor mortis" and neither had a pulse, the report said.

Hussein Adam, a cousin of the children's father, said Monday that the family had emigrated from Somalia about a decade ago. He said Farah's husband had returned there several weeks ago to visit his parents.