(CBS/AP) SPLENDORA, Texas - The abandoned school bus about 30 miles northeast of Houston had no engine and no front wheels. But there were crude curtains in the windows, an air conditioner and even bunk beds.
So when a postal worker peered inside, it became clear that two children had been living for more than two months in the dilapidated vehicle at the end of a muddy, one-lane road. Now child welfare agents are trying to unravel the story of the siblings, ages 5 and 11, who apparently began staying in the bus with an aunt after their parents went to prison.
The postal carrier discovered the children Wednesday in Splendora, Texas, and the two were swiftly placed in foster care while authorities investigate. Their parents were convicted of embezzling money from victims of Hurricane Ike in 2008, and the kids are not enrolled in school.
Randal McCann, a Louisiana attorney who represented the children's mother prior to her sentencing, said the aunt had been taking care of the kids since the case against the parents was launched more than a year ago.
"It was believed by everybody involved in this case that (the aunt) was properly tending to those children. What I saw in the newspaper this morning was shocking," McCann said, referring to a report in the Houston Chronicle.
The children's mother, Sherrie Shorten, is scheduled to be freed in April after serving time for her role in the scam involving federal loans offered to hurricane victims.
Child safety officials were holding an emergency meeting Thursday to determine what to do with the two children, according to CBS affiliate KHOU.
The children told welfare workers that they were home-schooled. A woman on the property told the agency she worked 12-hour shifts Monday through Friday but that she stayed with the children at night.
"The aunt said that she does provide meals for them during the day," Montgomery County Constable Rowdy Hayden told TV station KTRH.