CHICAGO (CBS) — A northwest Indiana woman has been charged with neglect, after allegedly leaving her three children home alone, in a trailer with no running water or heat.

Police said a 16-year-old boy asked for help at school because of a broken water pipe at home. When police went to the mobile home in Portage, they found three children – ages 10, 11, and 16 – were living there alone, without running water or a working furnace.

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The kids told police their mother is rarely home, and drops off food only once in a while. The children said they can’t reach their mother by phone, and the teenager takes care of the cooking and cleaning.

Thanh Nguyen is charged with three counts of child neglect and one count of drug possession. (Source: Porter County Sheriff)

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Their mother, 46-year-old Thanh Nguyen, was arrested and charged with three felony counts of neglect, and one felony count of drug possession, after she was found with a prescription painkiller given to her by a friend.

Police said Nguyen denied abandoning her children and told them she gets home from work after they’re asleep. She said she leaves for work before they wake up.

Nguyen was being held in the Porter County Jail.

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Police said the children are now in protective custody.