Five siblings were crammed in a small apartment closet for more than 10 hours Sunday, resulting in the deaths of two children, police said Tuesday.
The disturbing new details were released as police continue to investigate the deaths of Zuhur Farah, 5, and Zakariya Farah, 3.
Police said Ebyan Farah, 28, told them she locked her five children in a closet and left the apartment in the 4600 block of Londonderry Court, near Mann Road and Kentucky Avenue, so she could visit a neighbor.
According to a police report, Farah had blocked the closet door with a bed, and when she returned about 10 hours later, she found two of the children had died.
Indianapolis police Lt. Jeff Duhamell said the circumstances of the case were the worst he had seen in 28 years of police work.
"The bottom line is, animals are treated better than that," he said.
Investigators are still awaiting a toxicology report, but said they think the cause of death was positional asphyxiation.
The closet was 6 feet-by-18 inches, police said, and one of the surviving siblings told officers that they had been crammed in there before.
The deceased children were in rigor mortis when medics arrived. Farah told investigators that she had not fed the children before leaving and that she didn't call 911 or try to revive them after finding their lifeless bodies.
A friend of Farah, Ahmed Jama, 30, told police that he had become concerned about her behavior in the hours before police arrived and that she wouldn't let anyone in the apartment.
Farah's uncle, Mohammad Hersi, told police that he peered into an open door at the apartment at about 6 p.m. and "saw what appeared to him as a deceased child laying on the couch inside the apartment" and attempted to call 911, according to the police report.
"Farah grabbed the phone from Mohammad Hersi and threw it," the report said.
Police said Farah told them she "was not in her right mind" when she locked the children up at about 6 a.m. Sunday, finding two of them dead a little after 4 p.m.
Neighbors are still dealing with the shock of the deaths.
"The kids were always at the window waving and saying 'hi' when you walked by. They were never out playing, but they always seemed happy," said Nicole Felt. "My heart goes out to those kids -- the two that passed, certainly, and the three that now have to live with what happened … My heart hurts for that family."
Farah was arrested on charges of neglect of a dependent. Authorities are awaiting autopsy results, after which charges against her could be upgraded and additional charges could be filed.
The three siblings of the children who died were malnourished, but otherwise unharmed, police said. They were removed from the home and are in state custody.
Neighbors said the father of the children, a taxi driver, returned to his native Somalia about a month ago, but is said to be on his way back to Indianapolis.
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