Four young children found living in squalor in a South Dallas apartment appear to have had limited contact with the outside world and used “gesturing and screams” to communicate, police said.
The father, Robert Preston, was held in the Dallas County jail Thursday evening without bond on child abuse charges and probation violation.
Officers were called to the Rosemont at Meadow Lane Apartments on Meadow Street Saturday evening by neighbors who found a 3-year-old boy wandering alone outside with no coat and shivering in the cold, according to Preston’s arrest warrant obtained by The Dallas Morning News.
As they were investigating, officers said Preston, 31, approached them and said he had left his children to go to a nearby store.
Police arrested him for violating probation on an old robbery charge, then found three other children inside his apartment.
The children were 5 years old, 2 years old, and 3-year-old twins.
The apartment was filty and had no furniture, police said.
"The children displayed off language patterns,” the warrant said. “They used facial expressions, body language, gesturing, and screams to communicate."
The children did not appear to be properly socialized, police said.
“It appears they had limited contact with anyone outside their immediate family,” the document said. "The entire apartment reeked of feces and the toilets in both bathrooms did not appear to have been flushed in weeks."
The warrant also said officers discovered a malnourished puppy inside that apartment locked in a closet full of waste. Animal control officers took it.
The four children were placed in state custody. The two-year-old went to the hospital.
Officers said they asked Preston about the conditions inside the apartment and he seemed “unphased” and “portrayed the situation as normal.”
In an email to NBC 5 late Thursday night, Child Protective Services confirmed that Preston has two other children, a nine-year-old girl and a six-year-old girl, who were at a different home at the time he was arrested. They also have been placed into foster care.