(LA Times, LRR)The children, ages 7 and 4, had cereal and, for a time, milk. Frozen TV dinners and corn dogs, too. All the basics, to their mother's mind, to survive the 20 days she planned to be in North Carolina wooing a potential husband she'd met over the Internet.
The mother — Janet Hseuh Chen, 31 — tended to the details with meticulous care, authorities said. She unplugged the phone and taped the drapes shut. She lied to school officials, saying she and the children were going out of town. She taught the children how to heat their own meals and stash the trash in the refrigerator away from bugs.
But her plans didn't quite work out.
Neighbors became suspicious Monday when they spotted a 4-year-old boy peering out the window of a Placentia apartment with a week-old "missed delivery" tag hanging on the door. Their suspicions led to a call to police, who discovered the children had been left by themselves since two days before Christmas.