Mom of kids found living in school bus fights for custody

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by khou.com staff

Malini Basu / KHOU 11 News

Posted on April 25, 2012 at 12:36 AM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 25 at 10:46 AM

HOUSTON—The children found living inside an abandoned school bus are spending another night in Child Protective Services’ custody.

The children’s mother is fighting to put her family back together. 

From the outside, the abandoned school bus in Splendora doesn’t look like a home, but it is. 

Sherrie Shorten spent the last week cleaning the place up and, for the first time, she’s showing what it looks like.

“You could see it’s set up for two adults, two children, we’ve got Internet access, phone,” she said. “In the back we have a full bathroom.”

Shorten stared at her 5-year-old son’s spider man blanket and her 12-year-old daughter’s teddy bears yearning to hold them.

Shorten was arrested in December of 2010 for wire fraud.

“Ever since then, they have been living with their dad. Their dad wasn’t arrested until three months after me,” she said. 

Shorten said the kids were then left in the care of her great aunt. The aunt was working 12-hour days to support the children.

On March 7, a postal carrier noticed the kids living on the bus by themselves.

Then CPS showed up and took them away.

“It was difficult for me,” she said. “The first three weeks I was in jail, I cried, I wanted to talk to them, but every time I got on the phone with them I went, 'ahhh.'”

But Shorten quickly turned her attitude around.

“We spent time talking on the phone, we made grocery lists, we made meal lists, we did lessons,” she said. “I would assign my daughter lessons, she would complete the lessons, she would mail them back to her.”

Shorten said the kids sort of understood what was going on. They just knew they couldn’t see or touch their mom so they expressed their emotions on paper.

“He sent me a copy of his hands so he can touch me,” she said. “I want nothing more than my kids and husband home from jail”.

Shorten said she is doing anything and everything she can to get a job. The next status hearing is on May 2 in Splendora

Shorten’s husband, Mark, is scheduled to be released from prison in July.

 

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