NEW YORK • A mother who left her four young children alone to go on an 11-day Europe trip was jailed on child endangerment charges, said the authorities.
Erin Lee Macke, 30, travelled from Johnston, Iowa, a suburb of Des Moines, to Germany on Sept 20 without arranging childcare for her children, two aged 12 and the others six and seven, police in Johnston said on Friday.
The children also had access to a gun in the house.
Police found the children in the house on Sept 21, and notified child protective services and before calling Macke in Germany, ordering her to return. She had planned to return today.
Macke was arrested on Thursday on four counts of child endangerment, police said. She is also charged with one count of making a firearm available to a person under age 21, because there was an unsecured gun in the home the children knew about.
"The police have seen times when people have left their children to go somewhere, but to go to another country is completely different," said Ms Janet Wilwerding, a spokesman for the city of 22,000.
Social media posts suggested it was a social trip, Johnson Police Lieutenant Lynn Aswegan said.
The children - who are from two biological fathers who do not live in the home - have been placed in the custody of family members, police said. One of the fathers who lives in Texas had discovered they had been left alone and called the police.
Iowa state law does not specify any age or time limit for leaving children alone, but parents must provide for their children's safety, said Ms Amy McCoy, spokesman for the Iowa Department of Human Services.
Police consulted with local prosecutors before filing charges and considered the distance, duration of the absence and ages of the children, Lt Aswegan said.