CHICO, Calif. - A Chico mother has been arrested for felony child endangerment after she left her two young daughters home alone overnight and the girls awoke to a house fire.
The mother Rebecca Laughlin-Moralez, 38, admitted to KRCR News Channel Seven she left her 8 and 9 year old daughters children alone. She claimed she left because she was chased away by an intruder.
Rebecca Laughlin-Moralez was away from her home when a fire broke out around 2:30 a.m. Friday at 121 York Drive in Chico.
Police interviewed Moralez Saturday night and she was arrested.
Moralez's 8 and 9-year-old daughters were left alone in the early morning hours of Friday. One girl awoke to the smell of smoke. She woke up her sister who was sleeping in a car parked in the driveway.
The girls tried to go back into the burning home to locate their mother whom they thought was still inside, but it was too smoky. They ran down the street to a neighbor's house and asked them to call 911.
Moralez was nowhere to be found. Firefighters searched the burning home two times, but determined she was not inside.
She returned to her home around 9 a.m. Friday, more than six hours after the fire.
Her children are now in the custody of Child Protective Services.
KRCR News Channel 7's Jerry Olenyn spoke with Moralez.
She initially told him, "I was at home with my children at the time and it's none of your concern, it's none of your business."
About an hour later, around 10:30 a.m. Moralez changed her story. She admitted she had left the girls after an intruder came through the back door.
"He was walking through the backdoor of my house….I don't know who it was. I didn't have the dining room light on, I couldn't see," said Moralez.
She claims she fled for safety, leaving her children behind.
"He chased me out the front door."
Her story left many questions, like why she didn't report the break-in, or return home until more than six hours after the fire broke out. But she cut off the interview before those questions could be answered.
The 38-year-old was arrested Saturday night for felony child endangerment.
She is being held on $50,000 bail.
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