Authorities in Colorado Springs, Colorado, received a complaint last November that a daycare was housing more children than its license allowed.
Officers say they found a pile of backpacks in a closet, the documents state. They asked the owner, Carla Faith, about the backpacks. She allegedly told them she had volunteered for a soccer team and was cleaning the backpacks for them.
But then, authorities allege they could hear the telltale sounds of kids on the property.
“The owner refused to cooperate with officers,” the Colorado Springs Police Department alleged in a press release. “However, officers could hear the noises of children coming from her home.”
“During their investigation, officers found a false wall that led to the home’s basement,” the statement continues. “When officers walked down the stairs, they located two adults and 26 kids inside a finished basement, all of whom were under the age of three years old. Officers immediately began working with DHS to release the children back to their parents.”
Police reports allege that many of the kids were sweating and visibly dehydrated. Some of them allegedly had wet or soiled diapers.
After a six-week investigation, authorities made four arrests.
Faith, 58, was arrested on Monday and charged with two counts of reckless child abuse without injury and one count of trying to influence a public servant.
Three of her employees — Katelynne Nelson, 31, Christina Swauger, 35, and Valerie Fresquez, 24 — were also arrested on charges relating to the discovery.
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Swauger has been charged with attempt to influence a public servant along with misdemeanor child abuse. She was also ticketed for allegedly smoking/possessing marijuana while acting as a caregiver in a childcare facility. Nelson was charged with unlawful possession of a schedule two controlled substance as well as misdemeanor child abuse. Fresquez was charged with misdemeanor child abuse.
None of the defendants have entered pleas. Faith posted $3,000 bond on Christmas Day. Her next court appearance has been set for Jan. 2. The other defendants have also been released on bond.
PEOPLE was unable to reach any of the defendants, and court records do not reflect an attorney authorized to speak on their behalf.
According to The Gazette, parents of 19 of the children have filed a lawsuit against Faith alleging negligence.