VALPARAISO — Police say a 46-year-old Valparaiso woman left home for numerous days, leaving an elderly woman and two young children behind without money, food or the care they need.
Maria Estrada is further accused of failing to register a 10-year-old for the current school year, which began Aug. 11, according to a newly-filed charging document.
Estrada is charged with three felony counts of neglect of a dependent and is being held without bond at the Porter County jail until her initial appearance before Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary DeBoer.
Police said they spoke with one of the alleged victims, a 17-year-old child, on Aug. 20, and was told Estrada had left home for numerous days and failed to provide financial assistance or food for a 77-year-old woman or the two children.
The elderly woman "is unable to care for her own daily needs due to (her) diminished physical and mental capacity," a charging document reads.
The elderly woman was left in the care of the two juveniles, who were "unable to physically maintain the vital needs of (her) hygiene and health care," police said.
Police say Estrada left the state during her absence and is the sole provider and caregiver for the group's household.
The investigation into the case began when the 10-year-old child failed to show up for the first two days of school, according to a court document. Officials later learned the child was not registered for the current school year.
Estrada was booked into the county jail Monday afternoon and no initial court hearing was scheduled as of Tuesday morning, according to court records.