2 Arrested in Home-Alone Case

Times Staff Writer

A man and his wife were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of felony child endangerment after leaving the man's two sons, ages 9 and 5, home alone in San Ramon, Calif., while they went to Las Vegas.

Police said Jacob Calero, 39, and Michelle Delavega Calero, 32, were taken into custody just after their plane landed at Oakland International Airport from Las Vegas. Police conducting a welfare check Saturday found the boys asleep in the couple's home with a gas fire burning -- home alone, the boys told them, since early Friday.

The boys, Joshua and Jason Calero, were not physically harmed, said San Ramon Police Sgt. Brian Kalinowski. Their mother died in 2003, he said.

Their plight was brought to the attention of police by the boys' maternal grandmother, Libbey Holden, who was worried about them after she tried to call them at home and no one answered the phone. The grandmother called police, who entered the town house late Saturday by climbing up to an unlocked, second-floor sliding-glass door when the boys failed to answer their knock.

The boys told officers that their father and stepmother had told them they were going to Las Vegas, and that they were not to open the door to anyone. They had their father's number to call in an emergency.

Police described the town house unit as well-kept. They said the boys had been making their own meals -- cereal for breakfast and frozen meals heated in the microwave for lunch and dinner -- and that they had passed the time watching television.

Kalinowski called the case "very strange and bizarre -- and inexcusable."

The older boy had apparently been left alone to take care of his brother on at least one previous occasion, Kalinowski said, adding: "I think he just resorted to instinct."

The boys have been placed in protective custody with their grandmother in Manteca, Calif. Their father and stepmother were escorted off the plane and were booked and placed in a Contra Costa County detention facility after they declined to give statements without a lawyer present, Kalinowski said.

Each faces two counts of felony child endangerment. Bail has been set for each at $200,000, and officials with the Contra Costa County district attorney's office said they will review the case Friday.

"They shouldn't leave us alone," the older boy, Joshua, told a reporter Wednesday. "I didn't know who I could call in an emergency. Even if I called my father, he's far away, so there wouldn't be much he could do."


Associated Press contributed to this report.

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