Children found wandering after man leaves for casino

A man was arrested after two toddlers he was supposed to watch were found Monday wandering the streets after he went to buy cigarettes and visit a casino, police say.

A 1-year-old boy who was wearing a T-shirt, diaper and socks, and a 3-year-old girl, who was in a top, purple jacket, and a single sock and sandal, were found around 9:40 a.m., WXIX reported.

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Police talked to neighbors and were able to find the children’s home. When officers went to the home they found the door open but no one there. Inside, the house was overfilled with trash.

An undersized gate attached with a zip tie to keep it closed was across a hallway leading to the children’s room.

Police called the mother and within 30 minutes she arrived. She told investigators that she leaves for work at 6:15 a.m. daily, WXIX reported. She said she left the children in the care of Jarad Elsen, who works overnight and had previously watched them without incident.

As the mother was talking with officers, Elsen called. He went to the police station and told officers that the children awoke at 4 a.m. and were with him until 9 a.m. when they all went back to sleep, WXIX reported.

Elsen told police he left around 10 a.m. to get cigarettes, went back home, then left 10 minutes later to go to a nearby casino, WXIX reported.

Elsen was arrested and charged with two counts of criminal confinement and neglect of a dependent, WXIX reported.

The children were placed back into their mother’s custody.

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