PHILADELPHIA – A mother was charged Monday with locking her four children in the basement for more than 13 hours without food or a bathroom as punishment.
Charnae Lee, 29, was charged with four counts of unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, endangering the welfare of a child and recklessly endangering another person.
Firefighters broke through a second-floor window of the home in the city's Kensington section on Sunday afternoon after one child used a cellphone to dial 911, authorities said.
The children told officers that they had been told by their mother at about midnight to "carry their mattresses down to the basement and stay there," police said. While there, they lacked "access to food, running water, the bathroom or heat," police said.
The 13-year-old boy, 12-year-old girl, 10-year-old girl and 9-year-old boy were taken to St. Christopher's Hospital for Children for observation.
Police said Monday that they contacted Lee at work and brought her to the Special Victims Unit. She told investigators she ordered the children to stay in the basement "for disciplinary reasons," but "she did not know the door was locked," police said.
A listed number for Lee couldn't be found Monday. Court documents don't list a defense attorney who could offer comment on the charges.