Parents who left kids in filthy apartment sought

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by Associated Press

wfaa.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:49 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 16 at 11:51 AM

HOUSTON - The parents of four children found alone in a Harris County apartment filled with garbage, feces and filth have been charged with two counts each of abandoning a child.

Arrest warrants have been issued for Corey Burist, 35, and Christina Zook, 28, the Houston Chronicle reported Thursday. Neither parent was in custody Thursday afternoon, authorities told the newspaper.

The charges are second-degree felonies, punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000, said Harris County Assistant District Attorney Donna Hawkins.

The four siblings, ages 1 to 7, were taken into temporary custody of Child Protective Services after the eldest child stopped a stranger and asked for a ride to school outside a northwest Harris County apartment complex on Tuesday.

The woman dropped the child off at school then called authorities.

The younger children were later found inside the apartment, which authorities said was littered with trash, spoiled food, and flies. The walls were smeared with feces and urine, Hawkins said.

The children were eating spoiled food left on a coffee table.

In an emergency custody hearing Tuesday, the children were placed in foster care and Burist was ordered to undergo a drug test. Burist did not live at the apartment with his children and their mother.

Burist's parents, who attended that hearing, have expressed interest in taking custody. CPS officials said they are studying the environment to determine if that is a safe option.

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