Krystal Penheiro and Lee Snell are the mom and grandpa of four kids in Tulsa, Oklahoma. But Penheiro and Snell find themselves under arrest and held on $50,000 bond — an sum that their family says is way out of their price range — after those kids ranging in age from 1- to 10-years-old were forced to heroically save themselves from a burning house after a fire somehow started in what police described as the “deplorable,” cluttered and unsanitary conditions inside the house in Tulsa on Friday afternoon.
Penheiro, 30, and the 63-year-old Snell were arrested on charges of child neglect, according to a report in the Tulsa World newspaper, after they left the four young children alone in the house while they ran errands, failing to return until about three hours after the fire.
A police officer at the scene told Tulsa television station KOTV that the 5-year-old child carried the 1-year-old to safety from the burning home. None of the children were seriously injured in the fire, though one, a 2-year-old, was treated for smoke inhalation.
“I’m glad they got out, I’m glad I have some smart kids to get out,” Krystal Penheiro told the station prior to her arrest. But even then she added that she was concerned that the state Department of Human Services would take her children from her and throw her in jail.
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“The oldest one, 10-years-old, is old enough to babysit for an hour,” she told KOTV. “I should have just took them with me but I wasn’t thinking.”
The following video offers further details on the disturbing child neglect case.
The DHS did, in fact, take the children and are now in the process of attempting to place them with other family members.
A witness told police that the mom and grandpa left the home at about 10 a.m., meaning they were gone with the children alone in the house for about six hours. But when police inspected the fire-damaged home after the fire, they found that there was more to the story than just a careless mom leaving her kids alone in the house.
The house itself was in “deplorable” condition, police wrote in their arrest reports on Penheiro and Snell.
They found a house filled with clutter, and a toilet overflowing with feces in the bathroom — a bathroom police described as “unbearable.” In the living room, the debris was piled so thickly that the floor was not visible.
Clutter in the kitchen was also piled high — so much so that the kitchen area could not even be entered by the inspecting officers. In a child’s bedroom, debris was stacked about two feet high.
Tulsa Police Officer Bradon Smith told KTUL-TV in Tulsa that the clutter in the house endangered the lives of the children.
“The house was sort of hard to get in and out of,” Smith said. “The kids were very lucky to have survived that.”
The family were not strangers to police, either. In 2014, officers had been called to the home to check on the health and welfare of the kids. What they found at that time has not been made public, but clearly, the children were allowed to remain with their mom in the house.
Penheiro and Snell told detectives that they were aware that the four children were alone in the house as they made as many as six stops on their errand run on Friday. Other family members said that Snell, the children’s grandfather, did not like to take the children with him in his truck, because the vehicle emits fumes that cause illness in the kids.
The family is now attempting to figure out how they can get Krystal Penheiro and Lee Snell out of jail.
[Photos By Tulsa Police Department]