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Kids Saved After Being Abandoned In Parking Lot

Posted at 5:22 PM, May 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-18 19:30:42-04

Young children were rescued by good Samaritans after they were abandoned in a busy parking lot.

A three-year-old girl and her one-year-old baby brother were left to fend for themselves.

They were found covered in filth and bleeding by the good Samaritans, and their mother has been placed behind bars.

The two small children were living with their mother and her boyfriend in a tent hidden in a wooded field behind a strip mall off Middle Tennessee Boulevard in Murfreesboro.

No one had any idea until the two were spotted wandering alone in a nearby parking lot, and police said they were abandoned by their mother.

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"They were just filthy. They looked like they needed help," said Deonna Gibbs.

Gibbs had just pulled into the lot and spotted the frightened children and called police. She said she was shocked at their condition -- both covered in feces and bleeding from cuts.

Police arrived to look for the parents as Gibbs and other good Samaritans immediately bought food, clothing, and baby wipes to clean up the siblings.

"All up and down their legs there were bruises and cuts. They were so bruised up I couldn't tell the difference between filth and the bruises," said Gibbs.

Officers determined the mother, identified as 21-year-old Andrea Lewis, felt sick, called an ambulance, and then left her children at the strip mall.

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Further investigation revealed Lewis was camping in the nearby woods and police found the tent with a machete outside.

The small shelter was stocked with a single sleeping bag, Ramen noodles, and candy.

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"I was like, 'Where's their mom?' And at that point I was like, I didn't want them going back to the situation they came from," said Gibbs.

Police tracked down Lewis at the hospital and arrested her.

The children were cleaned up, dressed warmly, fed, and given some toys.

Gibbs said they finally felt safe.

"They were such sweet kids, and by the time I left, the boy reached for me and was crying. It broke my heart," said Gibbs.

The two children were placed with their grandmother. Lewis remained in jail on two counts of aggravated child neglect.

Lewis also told police she's pregnant with a third child.