King County prosecutors contend Qiara Dennis left her children, aged 1 and 3, unattended for five days earlier in June. The children went without food, water or attention of any kind for five days, several of which Dennis spent in a southwest Washington jail.
Auburn police recovered the children June 14 after a property manager heard a child crying and asking for her mother. Police statements indicate the children were living in intolerable, dangerous conditions.
"The defendant abandoned her children and when later arrested failed to notify anyone that she had left the children at home," Senior Deputy Prosecutor Cecelia Gregson said in charging papers.
According to charging papers, Dennis left her children sometime on June 9 and was arrested the following day in Cowlitz County for driving on a suspended license. Rather than tell jailers her children were home alone, Dennis is alleged to have stayed mum while the 3-year-old girl and infant brother starved alone.
Auburn police recovered the children shortly after 6 p.m. on June 14, after the apartment complex property manager called 911.
In a statement to the court, an Auburn detective recounted the heartbreaking, stomach-churning scene that officers encountered.
The 3-year-old girl was pushing on a second-story window screen when police arrived, crying for her mother and asking for food, the detective told the court. Crying hysterically, she explained she couldn't reach the door handle to escape the apartment she and her brother had been locked inside.
The smell was overpowering. Rotting food and human waste perfumed the unit. Both children were so thoroughly caked in filth officers had to change the bathwater twice while cleaning them at a neighboring apartment.
"Officers explained that it was difficult to walk through the apartment without stepping on rotten food, garbage, human feces or vomit," the detective told the court.
The children, the detective said, would have died had help not arrived.
"Qiara recklessly abandoned her children and created an environment where the children suffered substantial bodily harm," she continued.
The children were placed in protective custody following their rescue. A separate civil court action will determine whose care they're placed in.
Also known as Qiara Emerson, Dennis has been charged with two counts of second-degree abandonment of a dependent person. She remains jailed on $105,100 bail.