(KMOV) – Police say the mother of three missing children from St. Francois County and her boyfriend are in custody after the kids were found in Tulsa, Okla. early Tuesday morning.
Authorities say the children, Jaysnia, Juliana, and Jesus Mendoza, ages 3, 5, and 7, were found with Julie Mendoza, and her boyfriend, Patrick McKinzie.
According to KOVT in Tulsa, officers were tipped off the children and her mom was in the area around 12 a.m. Tuesday. They were found walking in a neighborhood and their car was located at a restaurant parking lot around. It was not immediately known why they were in Oklahoma.
Julie Mendoza and Patrick McKinzie were arrested and both charged with three counts of interference with custody, a felony. They remain in custody in Tulsa on a $50,000 bond each.
The children were taken into protective custody by Oklahoma Human Services.
Authorities say Mendoza was allowed visitation with her children on Saturday but did not return them to the kids’ grandmother the next day as scheduled. Police say she told the grandmother she would not bring them back.
Police say an investigation helped them determine she was with McKinzie.
Authorities say Mendoza, 28, who has lived in St. Louis, has a long history of substance abuse and has abandoned the children in the past to travel, sometimes for months at a time.
The repeated episodes eventually led to the children’s grandmother being granted guardianship. She was was expected to pick the children up in Oklahoma some time Tuesday.