CHICAGO (CBS) — Police made a horrific discovery Tuesday at a home daycare in Merrillville, Indiana, and three women have been hit with felony charges.
Merrillville police officers and the Indiana Department of Child Services showed up at Tawana Cole’s home daycare for an unannounced walk-through Tuesday evening to follow up on three children, police said.
When they arrived, they encountered a mother who said the daycare had called and said her 4-year-old son had suffered a head injury, but the owner would not open the door after alerting her.
Police tried to make contact with the people inside, but no one would answer the door. Officers could hear children inside, and when the noise suddenly stopped, an officer climbed through an unlocked window to get inside.
When the officer got in, police found 15 children and two women inside. They also found the 4-year-old boy surrounded by bloody napkins. The boy had an open laceration on his forehead. His mother immediately took him to the hospital for treatment.
Police said the boy had not received proper medical attention for nearly two hours from the time of the injury to when the child was located.
Police also found several bottles of whiskey and vodka on the floor near the children, and several unsecured weapons, including a loaded handgun, a loaded shotgun, and assorted daggers and sharp blades.
Neighbors said they did not know what was happening at the time, but watched as officers let children out to meet with their parents.
“At first, I thought it could be about the vehicles, because all the neighbors were tired of the vehicles parking and blocking driveways,” Charlie Anderson Jr. said.
Although police found 15 children inside the daycare, the three children DCS case workers were looking for were missing, police said.
Cole refused to tell police and DCS where those children were, or if they were safe, according to police. After she was taken to jail, she contacted her attorney, and later told police where the three missing children were.
Prosecutors approved 26 felony charges against Cole and the two other women who were found inside the home – Roberta Sanders and Adriana Johnson.
Police said the home daycare center’s license had expired in March, and the daycare was only approved for a maximum capacity of 12 children.
All of the children have been reunited with their parents.