A Texas woman is accused of leaving her five children at home and traveling to another state for days, where she visited the beach and supposedly looked for a job.
Statesman reports that Chrystal Nichole Walraven, 28, left her home in Round Rock in August 2018 and traveled to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, “because she needed to get away from everything that was happening at home,” according to an arrest affidavit. Walraven told authorities she was also looking for a job in South Carolina.
Round Rock police spokesperson, Rick White, said an arrest took so long because police wanted to ensure they did a thorough investigation and gathered enough evidence against Walraven. The children, whose ages range from 15 months to 12, are now living with relatives.
Authorities got involved after a few of the suspect’s children complained at school that they had to stay up all night with their younger siblings and change diapers. The principle at Gattis Elementary School contacted police on August 28, 2018.
Later that afternoon, an officer went to the children’s home off of the 2700 block of High Point Drive. A 10-year-old boy answered the door. Although the boy said everything was fine, the arrest affidavit indicated there was an “overwhelming odor” coming from inside the house that smelled like trash, urine and feces.
When officers walked into the home, they noticed the 15-month-old girl lying in a crib with a blanket over her mouth. She wasn’t moving but when officer removed the blanket and touched her, she took a breath.
The officers also noted flies swarming around the kitchen, stains on the stairs, a soiled diaper in the closet, and numerous knives in the open that the children had access to. They found three other children, a 12-year-old, 6-year-old, and 3-year-old, inside the home.
The school district reportedly contacted a man listed as the children’s father on school records, but the man claimed the neighbors were supposed to be watching the children. He had moved out of the home weeks prior and lived in another state.
When officers spoke to the neighbor, she said she “never knew exactly what was going on with the children,” but did make them dinner the night before. The neighbor said a father of one of the kids had stopped by and checked on them a few times.
According to FOX 7 Austin, other neighbors said it wasn’t unusual for the children to play outside until midnight. When social workers arrived, the children seemed excited, according to the neighbors.
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) took the children out of the home. The next day, the second father arrived at the police station to pick up one of the children. He told police that on August 25, Walraven asked him to watch all five children and that he explained to her he could not.
The man said Walraven left for South Carolina anyway. He told police he had stopped by several times to leave food with the children and visit a couple of hours.
On August 30, Walraven was back in Texas and went to the police station to get her children. She told officers that she flew to Myrtle Beach, looked around for job opportunities, then stayed “with a male friend” while going to the beach and visiting the tourist sites in the city.
Walraven reportedly said her flight back home was delayed, but she spoke with the children frequently through Facebook.
After months of investigating, authorities obtained a warrant for Walraven’s arrest in February. The same month, she turned herself in.
Walraven is facing child abandonment and endangerment charges. If convicted, she could serve anywhere from two to 20 years behind bars.
[Feature Photo: Chrystal Walraven/Police Handout]